According to an unconfirmed report from an iPhone expert, Apple can remotely disable select third-party applications on its smartphone.
Jonathan Zdziarski discovered that devices running iPhone 2.x software will periodically check a page on Apple web site (see here) for software Apple wants disabled.
Currently there are no real entries on this list, but this mechanism would apparently allow Apple to prevent iPhone owners from using a third-party applications at any point, even if it had been purchased through Apple’s own App Store.
According to a separate report, this black list doesn’t totally block unwanted applications from running, but instead prevents specific applications from accessing the iPhone GPS and navigation capabilities.
It’s apparently there to prevent hackers from using the iPhone 3G to remotely discover people’s locations.
This is why the call to the application list on Apple’s website is found in the Core Location area, which handles this smartphone’s navigation functionality.
Keeping Tight Control
Including a method to block third-party software even after it has been installed is in-line with Apple’s other practices. This company has so far kept a tight rein on software for the iPhone.
Developers are not allowed to directly distribute their software to iPhone and iPod touch users. Instead, it all has to go through Apple’s official App Store.
By controlling the distribution channels, Apple is able to block software in categories it doesn’t approve of: porn, privacy violations, bandwidth hogs, illegal, malicious, and ‘unforeseen.’
The First Candidate?
Possibly the first piece of software that may appear on the black list is NetShare from Nullriver, Inc. This allows iPhone 3G users to share their smartphone’s high-speed wireless connection with their laptop or desktop.
NetShare has been listed on the App Store several times in the last week but also pulled down several times, too. The reasons for this aren’t clear, but many people suspect it’s because AT&T disapproves of this application. This carrier wants customers who tether their smartphone to their laptop to pay an additional $15 a month.
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