Screen sharing could be a future Apple FaceTime feature

Apple’s FaceTime service is currently just a method of two-way personal communication, but it could become much more. A patent granted to Apple shows how FaceTime would work as a collaborative productivity tool, complete with data and app sharing.

AppleInsider noted the new patent grant on Tuesday, with images such as this one showing how screens could be shared over FaceTime on an [company]Apple[/company] iPad while the app maintains a two-way video conversation.

facetime screen sharing patent

This particular example also shows that FaceTime users could control what application data is shared between two parties; on the right you can see shared calendar information.

The patent describes how data controls would work — determing what can be shared based on user controls or the type of connection. ranging from specifying exactly what can be shared based on user controls or by the type of connection. Sharing a screen or an app over Wi-Fi might be preferable to sharing it over an LTE connection, for example.

Apple’s FaceTime service is only available on iOS and OS X devices, of course, so don’t expect to share your Windows Desktop or apps any time soon using FaceTime, even if Apple does implement what’s described in the patent. Besides, there are plenty of third-party apps that offer that functionality now on non-Apple devices.

iMessage just got secure: Apple expands iCloud two-factor authentication

Since the embarrassing revelation that iCloud’s two-factor authentication didn’t actually cover many of Apple’s online services, partially responsible for a rash of leaked celebrity photos last year, Apple has been gradually adding the security setting to many of its other services. On Thursday, users with iCloud’s two-factor authentication enabled will need to complete extra steps when logging into iMessage and FaceTime, the Guardian reported. The feature is rolling out now, but may not be available for your specific devices yet.

For users who have two-factor turned on, when you log into iMessage on a new iPhone or Mac, your Apple ID password won’t be enough to gain access. According to MacRumors, FaceTime and iMessage are using app-specific passwords, in which you generate a unique code on Apple’s website, instead of having a four-digit PIN texted to your device.

Now, a miscreant with your Apple ID password — possibly gained through phishing, other social engineering, or even a lucky guess — won’t be able to set up iMessage or FaceTime and pretend to be you without your phone. Because of the way iMessage uses encryption, simply logging into a new device doesn’t recover old iMessages, even before Apple turned on the new two-factor authentication.

If you don’t have two-factor turned on for your iCloud account, you should do it. Here’s Apple’s guide. After all, even if you’re not a celebrity, you don’t want to get hacked and have your life turned upside down.

This post was updated on 2/13 to clarify that iMessage and FaceTime are using app-specific passwords, and not two-factor authentication with a PIN code. 

 

UK’s Cameron won’t “allow” strong encryption of communications

The British prime minister David Cameron has suggested that if his Conservative Party wins the upcoming general election, it will not allow encrypted communications that cannot be read by the security services.

On Sunday, Cameron told ITV News: “I think we cannot allow modern forms of communication to be exempt from the ability, in extremis, with a warrant signed by the home secretary, to be exempt from being listened to. That is my very clear view and if I am prime minister after the next election I will make sure we legislate accordingly.” He repeated the sentiment again on Monday (video embedded below.)

The Tory leader has already said that he wants to bring back the Communications Data Bill, a.k.a. the “Snooper’s Charter,” if his party wins the upcoming general election in May. This is not news as such; the only reason the bill is on ice is that the Conservatives’ current coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, refuse to allow it to be tabled. (The Lib Dems did, however, allow the “emergency” passage of the DRIP Act, which brought in the main planks of the Snooper’s Charter – mandatory data retention for various kinds of internet communications – on a temporary basis.)

However, the Tories’ rhetoric has predictably ramped up in the wake of the Paris killings. The idea of banning secure communications is a recent development (though it follows on from the frustration of U.K. intelligence chiefs) and is utterly flawed. Even armed with a warrant from the Home Secretary, security services would be stymied by a basic WhatsApp text chat, an email exchange properly encrypted using PGP, or an [company]Apple[/company] iMessage or FaceTime conversation – all of which use end-to-end encryption.

These, we must assume, would be the services that Cameron would not “allow” if voted back in. However, it is hard to see the British government succeeding in stopping the use of such tools. Even if (a big “if”) the government got some kind of concession from the big commercial players (key escrow?), systems such as PGP don’t even have a centralized company behind the curtains. And then there’s the issue of anonymity — monitoring the communications of someone using the anonymized browsing tool Tor, for example, is difficult to say the least. Would online anonymity also be banned?

It’s just not a sensible idea, but that doesn’t always stop the introduction of new laws. Labour leader Ed Miliband, the head of the opposition, has said he would resist the immediate reintroduction of the Snooper’s Charter and would give a “cautious and considered” response to security chiefs asking for more powers. That doesn’t mean he won’t cave in — Labour has a bad record on this stuff, and the current government took power in 2010 promising to “reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour government and roll back state intrusion.” But, particularly after Snowden, this is clearly going to be a live issue on the campaign trail.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_kqM0gn63M