February 06, 2013

Hidden Buttons Uncovered within Apple's iOS 6.1 - It's a Radio!


Hundreds of millions of iOS users received a message over the last few days that iOS v6.1 was available for download and installation. As we did, we're sure many people took the few minutes to go ahead and take care of the upgrade. The description from Apple on what the upgrade provides didn't stir any romantic notions of exciting new things - in fact it was perhaps the dullest release description we've ever seen from Apple.

Of course, no sooner did Apple send the update than it was jail broken and examined in-depth by geeks across the country. This time around there was a software tool available that that provides developers and hackers with deep system level access to do things like installing applications from third party app stores, changing the look and feel of iOS, and adding new software features (thank you to CNET for that detail).

Soon enough, we began to hear of clues to more interesting things within iOS 6.1 than Apple had led us to believe existed. It turns out there is code in place, to be sure it's more or less hidden code ready to be used down the road and not anything that can suddenly be used by iPhone and iPad users or by iOS jail breakers, that can only suggest that Apple does indeed have its much rumored Pandora killer radio and service almost ready to roll.

The buttons, as the image above makes clear, were first commented on by 9to5Mac (note that our link may not bring you directly to the right page as these are blog posts that shift regularly - keep looking within older posts - it'll be there). 9to5Mac in turn was clued in to the buttons by Austin Smith (his Twitter page) - who actually found them. Kudos to Smith for the investigative work. What he found were both the buttons and a code reference for "radio." There is also a button that may (or may not) allow a future user to make purchases through the radio feature. It all makes sense given Apple's tight ecosystem, and of course iTunes can't be far from the mix here - especially relative to purchasing anything.

It is always fascinating to see what a dedicated hacker type will uncover. Is this something that will change Apple's world? Hardly! There is certainly no innovation here. Are the buttons real in terms of an Apple iOS radio? Maybe. Or perhaps an Apple developer decided to plant some Easter eggs to keep hacker types busy. Surely Apple didn't really think it could hide such a thing.

At the end of the day, it isn't particularly exciting. After all, we do have Pandora already. But then if anything it is Pandora that may need to put its worrying cap on for real now. Perhaps the entire thing is Apple's way of letting Pandora know to do so.




Edited by Jamie Epstein



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