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Media (Apple) Businesses Media Apple

Give iPod Thieves an Unchargeable Brick 338

Svippy writes "Apple has patented a technology for new generations of iPods that would detect when a user tries to operate the iPod on an unauthorised machine ... and will refuse to charge. Indefinitely. From the article: 'Every portable gadget with a rechargeable battery has a charging circuit that recognises when the external mains charger has been plugged in. It then manages the transfer of current to the battery. Apple's patent suggests that by attaching a "guardian circuit" to the charging circuit, it would be possible to block the charging process. When a device is plugged into an unauthorised computer, software would compare a security code in the device to a code buried in the software in the computer. Apple already employs a similar technology to "pair" iPods to iTunes running on a specific Mac or PC. If the codes do not match, then the guardian circuit could be triggered to prevent any further charging.'"
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Give iPod Thieves an Unchargeable Brick

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  • Not surprised... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by lantastik ( 877247 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:31PM (#20015901)
    One of the MANY reasons I would never buy an iPod.
  • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:31PM (#20015909)
    I suppose it would be relatively easy to implement a password system, where you generate a password when you first plug in a new iPod, and then have to use it when you sync or charge. That would let you use the iPod on as many computers as you want, as long as you enter the password. If you forget the password, you can go back to the Apple store with your credit card or receipt, and since all iPods have unique identification, they could reset it for you, once you provide proof that it's your property. ... wouldn't work too well if you bought it on ebay though... ... but I suppose Apple would enjoy it if their products weren't able to be resold.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:34PM (#20015971) Homepage
    I've got an external USB charger I use when I'm traveling, would they decide my iPod needs to die if I used it?

    All I want to be able to do is charge my friggin' iPod when I'm away from home. I don't think Apple should be deciding where I can charge my iPod -- what damage to them if I use a different machine to *charge* the damned thing.

    I mean, it's not like you can extract songs from an iPod readily. (At least, not such that I've seen). This just sounds like really dumb functionality.
  • by FunkyELF ( 609131 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:35PM (#20015977)
    I could see not letting iTunes do anything with it on an unauthorized computer, but charging? What bout all the other non-computer things that charge iPods now-a-days like car kits or plain old usb power adapters that go into wall sockets.

    My girlfriend has a car charger, a wall charger, and an iHome which all charge her iPod.
  • by MPAB ( 1074440 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:44PM (#20016119)
    How long till advertisements appear on ebay, offering to unlock iPods for half the price and no questions asked?
  • Re:False positives (Score:2, Interesting)

    by the_mad_postar ( 990721 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @05:00PM (#20016369) Homepage Journal
    Or worse: You bought your new iPod used at a Garage Sale, because the previous owner bought a new one with a larger storage capacity.

  • Re:great idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FauxPasIII ( 75900 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @05:02PM (#20016401)
    > uh oh, your PC stopped booting? congratulations, you iPod just did too.

    Oh well, off to the Apple store to buy a new computer, a new iPod, and then to iTunes to buy all my music again...

    Sorry, what was the downside of this for Apple?
  • Re:False positives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @05:05PM (#20016457) Homepage Journal
    This isn't about preventing stolen iPods from being able to charge. That's an incredibly fat lie.

    This is about making sure that people who buy a second charger have to buy it from Apple, at inflated prices.
  • Neo1973 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by greenarrow7 ( 1133887 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:04PM (#20017111)
    Slightly off topic, but once the new linux smartphone Neo1973 is available (and has python), i thought a nice security feature would be to upload an encrypted gps coordinate every hour or so, therefore if your phone gets lost or stolen, chances are it wont have been switched off before it gets back to someone's house. This is why python + mobile phones can only be a good idea :) I'm not sure if this is going to go in as a reply to another topics or not, i could not find out how to make a fresh thread (first post)
  • Re:weeee (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:19PM (#20017297)
    I was able to futz around in the directory tree of my brother's nano while it was plugged into my computer and copy a bunch of files onto my hard drive. I was then able to play them in my iTunes (OS X). Don't know what happens when you try the reverse.

    The file names were all random characters, so it's a little hard to figure what's what, but they list with readable names in iTunes.

    Apple makes it awkward to circumvent the iTunes interface, but there is nothing magical about it if you are remotely proficient at the command prompt and have some patience.

    The only problem is that my musical taste and my brother's are utterly different.
  • by master5o1 ( 1068594 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:16PM (#20017811) Homepage
    I saw this more as a way against someone like me going around to my cousin's house and plugging my ipod in and using the add-manually setting to add her music to my ipod. With this tech my ipod would be rendered useless after the charge dies. So is it about the stolen ipod that was ripped out of your pocket or is it about the stolen music from your friends library?
  • by JimXugle ( 921609 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:21PM (#20017877)
    If one could reasonably assert that those who would steal an iPod as opposed to buying one would be running windows, you could have an autorun file on the mass storage device that will check to see if it's your machine that it's connected to. If not, it will begin encrypting almost every important filetype that a user may have, followed by a prompt to the effect of "This is a stolen iPod. You have my iPod, I have all your files. If you ever want to see your data decrypted, I'll trade you the password for the safe return of my iPod. You may reach me at user@domain.com".

    Although I don't know of the legality of such an action...
  • Re:Bricks anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DF5JT ( 589002 ) <slashdot@bloatware.de> on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:25PM (#20017901) Homepage
    > Can't I just keep the ipod and give them a brick painted as an iPod like the P-P-P-Powerbook instead?

    Very funny indeed. You did follow that link, didn't you?


    3) Finally, and most disturbingly, Jeff was not heard from again. I personally e-mailed him for permission to run his story on ZUG, but after an initial response, I never heard from him again. All of his Web sites have come down, and he is nowhere to be found.

  • Re:False positives (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:30PM (#20017949)
    Lick my sack.

    I have 5 iPods because they are the best way to store photographs when on a long assignment where stable electrical current is a forlorn hope. A couple of them are old, but an 80GB iPod offers the best combination of battery life, size, weight, and storage space there is.
  • Zen already do this? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ACMENEWSLLC ( 940904 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @09:42PM (#20019031) Homepage
    I have a Creative Zen. It will not charge from any of the 4 USB chargers I have. These chargers all charge any of my other USB devices such as an IPOD, cell phone, bluetooth devices, etc.

    I wonder if the reason I have to use the $30 Zen charger, or the included USB cable, is because they have this technology built into their chargers.

    This smells as an entry towards DRM'ed chargers.
  • Re:False patent (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @09:59PM (#20019189)
    On my Asian side of the pond, few people have the first clue what an IMEI is, and for the most part they don't need to. People are not generally aware they can have their phones blacklisted in the event of theft, rarely will they go to the police, and even rarer still is the chance they might ever get their phone back. Modern handsets usually require swapping an IC off the board with one from an identical (and unlocked) phone to change the IMEI, it's not quite so easy as taking it to one of the 8 million market stalls any longer.

    If you can't change the IMEI, then unlocking is useless.
  • by Lex-Man82 ( 994679 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @06:57AM (#20021709)
    In England when you mobile phone gets stolen you can go to your phone company get some ID number and then tell the police who get the phone locked on all mobile networks (although more often than not your phone ends up in Nigeria where the lock won't work but anyway). If they did something like that where the user had to register his iPod stolen with Apple maybe through iTunes to have it stop working they wouldn't have so may problems with false positives on there system.

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