It is a well-perpetuated myth that closing apps on your iPhone will help save battery and make your phone’s performance improve. The result of closing apps on your phone has the opposite result compared to the desired effect.

When you “force close” your apps by double-tapping the home screen to show the Multitasking Menu and swiping up to close them, it creates more harm than good. When you see how many apps are open on your phone, you think that they must all be running in the background, draining the battery, and making our phones slower. However, you need to understand how iPhones suspend apps when they are not in use.

Most apps have three states:

  1. Active – This app is running in the foreground and is receiving events. This is the normal mode for an app that you are using currently.
  2. Background – This app is in the background and still receiving events. An app can run in the background momentarily while it is on its way to being suspended or it could run for longer. An example of this is when you have a navigation app giving you directions to a location. You may not be in the map app; however, it is giving you directions intermittently.
  3. Suspended – This app is the background and not receiving events. The system moves apps to this state automatically and while suspended, an app remains in memory. This means that the app will remember what you were doing last but, it will not get updates, use any battery, or harm the performance.

When you close the apps, you are taking the app from that suspended state and putting it into an inactive state. This makes it more laborious for the phone to re-open the app next time you use it. Closing the app will also drain the precious battery that you are trying to save. The only time that it is necessary to force-close an app is when the app is unresponsive. Otherwise, forcing close apps is much like turning your car off at stop signs, unproductive and wasting resources.

If you are concerned with battery, you can go into Settings>General>Background App Refresh and disable the refresh from apps that you don’t use or need to refresh frequently. Background App Refresh is a setting that lets certain apps check for new content and download updates in the background when they receive notification that it is available. Background App Refresh allows it to be ready for use the next time you open the app or you could just turn Background App Refresh off and let it update the next time you open the app.

 

The FBI and Apple are currently locked in a legal battle surrounding the iPhone left behind by one of the San Bernardino mass shooting suspects, Syed Farook. Stay informed with FIS on the timeline, details, and stakes in the world of cybersecurity in this pivotal case.


Browse the Article

Introduction
What Is a Backdoor?
What is the All Writs Act of 1789?
Who Else Has Weighed in on the Issue?
What Might This Mean for Smartphone Users?
Update: iPhone Unlocked without Assistance from Apple


Introduction

The case from which the below letters stem, the San Bernardino shooting in December of 2015, has led Apple and the FBI into an intense legal battle concerning the FBI’s demand that Apple build a “backdoor” into Syed Farook’s iPhone, which was upheld by a federal judge. The phone, according to the FBI, could contain information related to the San Bernardino attack and Farook’s wife, Tafsheen Malik’s pledge to ISIS on Facebook.

On February 16th, Apple CEO Tim Cook posted the following letter on the Apple website stating,

“The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake. … While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

Click on the letter below to read more.

On February 21st, FBI Director James Comey posted the following letter on The Lawfare Blog, a blog dedicated to “…that nebulous zone in which actions taken or contemplated to protect the nation interact with the nation’s laws and legal institutions.” The Lawfare Blog is published by the Lawfare Instritue in cooperation with the Brookings Institute.

James Comey writes,

We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That’s it. We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land.”

Click on the letter below to read more.

 


What Is a Backdoor?

Kim Zetter at Wired penned the article Hacker Lexicon: What Is a Backdoor? in December 2014. The quote that follows is a summary of the article that was posted within it:

TL;DR:

A backdoor in software or a computer system is generally an undocumented portal that allows an administrator to enter the system to troubleshoot or do upkeep. But it also refers to a secret portal that hackers and intelligence agencies use to gain illicit access.

In the case of the iPhone, the FBI is requesting that Apple build software that disables the feature that wipes all data from the iPhone after too many incorrect password attempts. In this case, the backdoor that the FBI is requesting falls under the latter half of Zetter’s definition: “A secret portal that hackers and intelligence agencies use to gain illicit access.”

Apple is arguing that in making such a backdoor would compromise the security of all of Apple’s devices, if not more. Tim Cook, Apple CEO states:

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

Conversely, James Comey, Director of the FBI, states:

We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That’s it. We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land.

Thus, one could summarize the FBI vs. Apple legal battle as such: Apple feels the FBI’s request compromises their commitment to encryption and could create a gap in security wide enough to be applicable across devices and accessible to hackers with malicious intent, compromising the personal data (such as photos, financial data, and passwords) of their customers. The FBI states that their intention is to enter one phone, Syed Farook’s, with the hopes of reaching a conclusion regarding the presence of information on the phone that could shed light on the attack and potentially lead to more terrorists, and specifically, members of the group ISIS.


What is the All Writs Act of 1789?

The All Writs Acts of 1789, which was invoked by the federal judge upholding the FBI’s request that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone, is summarized according to Laura Sydell of NPR thusly:

That law, the All Writs Act, is all of two sentences in length. It gives judges the authority to issue any order necessary — within the law — to further litigation before the court. The relative clause says:

“The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

A “writ” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an order or mandatory process in writing issued in the name of the sovereign or of a court or judicial officer commanding the person to whom it is directed to perform or refrain from performing an act specified therein .” Its origin is Middle English, from Old English, with its first known use dating to before the 12th century.

The All Writs Act has been previously used in legal cases involving phones in 1977, in a case involving the FBI and the New York Telephone Company. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the FBI, requiring the New York Telephone Company to install a “pen register,” a device that records calls to and from specific phone numbers, in this case, two numbers that were suspected in an illegal gambling case.


Who Else Has Weighed in on The Issue?

Bill Gates

In an interview with Financial Times, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, has stated,

“This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They’re not asking for some general thing, they’re asking for a particular case…Apple has access to the information, they’re just refusing to provide the access, and the courts will tell them whether to provide the access or not.”

However, in a later interview with Bloomberg, Gates stated that he was “disappointed” with headline that stated he sided with the FBI in the case but that he does “…believe that with the right safeguards there are cases where the government, on our behalf — like stopping terrorism, which could get worse in the future — that that is valuable” and that “These issues will be decided in Congress.”

Microsoft

Microsoft as a company began their involvement in the FBI vs. Apple legal battle by offering only mild support to Apple, stating on February 18th:

Reform Government Surveillance companies believe it is extremely important to deter terrorists and criminals and to help law enforcement by processing legal orders for information in order to keep us all safe. But technology companies should not be required to build backdoors to the technologies that keep their users’ information secure. RGS companies remain committed to providing law enforcement with the help it needs while protecting the security of their customers and their customers’ information.”

As of February 25th, however, according to Chris Welch at The Verge:

Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith has announced, “We at Microsoft support Apple and will be filing an amicus brief next week.” An amicus brief is a “friend of the court” filing that allows parties not directly involved in the case to weigh in.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued this formal statement regarding the FBI and Apple’s current case:

“We condemn terrorism and have total solidarity with victims of terror. Those who seek to praise, promote, or plan terrorist acts have no place on our services. We also appreciate the difficult and essential work of law enforcement to keep people safe. When we receive lawful requests from these authorities we comply. However, we will continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems. These demands would create a chilling precedent and obstruct companies’ efforts to secure their products.”

Edward Snowden

Former NSA contractor and current director at Freedom of the Press tweeted:

Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey


What Might This Mean for Smartphone Users?

Some parties, such as Edward Snowden, given his statement above and others on Twitter, suggest that the real goal of the FBI is to expand surveillance on phones and online correspondence, using the rhetoric of stopping terrorism and terrorists to achieve this goal.

Additionally, the use of the All Writs Acts is under scrutiny for its age, with opponents questioning whether a law in created in 1789 can apply to the iPhone and cybersecurity. Pundits also suggest that if the FBI succeeds in requiring Apple to construct the backdoor at the federal or Supreme Court level, then other world powers’ governments could do the same, at the advantage or expense of citizens.

Finally, while it can be argued that common people do not have much control in the actual legal proceedings between the FBI and Apple, it can be argued that Apple stands to lose thousands of customers if the FBI succeeds in their case against Apple. In a democratic system such as the United States, the people do have some level of social power in the form of free speech and the rights to assemble and support or protest either Apple or the FBI. It is important to consider government dialogue as well as multinational business goals when considering whether or not to support a specific side of the argument: Apple and their supporters or the FBI and their supporters. At the same, it’s important to stay mindful of your rights and responsibilities as a consumer and citizen of the American political and technological worlds.


Update: iPhone Unlocked without Assistance from Apple

In a statement from the Justice Department on Monday, March 28th, the FBI has dropped their case against Apple seeking to unlock the final remaining iPhone in the San Bernardino mass-shooting. The decision to drop the case seems to be linked with U.S. law enforcement’s claim that the iPhone has been unlocked without assistance from Apple, but with help from an undisclosed company outside of the FBI.

If the iPhone has been unlocked, some are now worried about the overall security of the iPhone and are interested in learning the process used to unlock the iPhone in question. Apple’s lawyers have expressed public interest in this information with the intent of strengthening the overall security of the iPhone. However, the government could choose to classify the information, barring Apple and others from accessing it.

No information regarding the contents of the iPhone has been released. Meanwhile, the possibility of not finding relevant information is still a potential.

Both Apple and the FBI have stated that they will continue working towards their goals, Apple regarding securing users’ data from interpersonal and governmental attacks, and the FBI regarding their ability to “obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety” with or without “cooperation from relevant parties.”

Source: U.S. Says It Has Unlocked iPhone Without Apple

For smartphone users, storage limits can be quickly and easily reached, especially the longer you own a specific device. To control this, consider making some of these tips, as profiled by Mashable, part of your smartphone routine.

Determine Your Storage Capacity

A helpful first step in reclaiming your smartphone’s storage space is assessing your phone’s storage and what kind of files and data are occupying the most space on your device:

iOS through iPhone:

To view where you’re using most of your storage, go to the Settings app, then choose General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage. You’ll see how much you’ve used, how much space is available and what apps is taking up the most space. Remember, your operating system and updates will take up space as well.

After you have identified the types files and data that are occupying the most space on your device, you can begin to clear space on your smartphone.

iphonesettings1 (2)

iOS through iTunes:

Open iTunes on your personal computer and connect your device. Select your device and hover your cursor over a content type, such as Audio or Photos, to view the amount of space it takes up in relation to how much space is on your device overall. After you have identified the types files and data that are occupying the most space on your device, you can begin to clear space on your smartphone.

iOS Storage

Android through your Mobile Phone:

Go to Settings > General > Storage to have your phone calculate the amount of space used by Apps, Downloads, and Audio in relation to overall space on your device.

After you have identified the types files and data that are occupying the most space on your device, you can begin to clear space on your smartphone.

Android Storage

Time to Clean Up

Delete Old or Unused Apps: Do you still have last year’s viral game or app downloaded on your phone? Has it gone untouched for months? If so, it’s time to clean out your applications. Similarly, if you have multiple apps that have the same function, such as photo editing apps, pare them down to one to two depending on your needs.

To delete an app on iPhone, long press on an app’s icon until all your apps start to shake. Then, tap the X in the corner of any app you want to delete. If there isn’t an X, that means it’s a native app and you can’t delete it. In this mode, you can also move your apps around. To exit this mode, press the home button and your apps will stop shaking.

To delete an app on Android, go to the app drawer and long press an app’s icon and drag it to the “uninstall” message that appears after the long press. (If this app has a shortcut on the home screen, dragging it to “remove” will only remove it from the home screen instead of uninstalling it from the device. Similarly to iPhone, if the “uninstall” option does not appear, the app is native to your device and cannot be uninstalled from your phone.

Delete duplicate photos, videos, screenshots, or downloads.

Move videos, photos, and screenshots to more permanent spaces such as your personal computer or a cloud service for those with files taking up the majority of space on their device.

  • Moving your files to a personal computer or cloud service has the added benefit of effectively backing up files formerly only found on your phone.
  • iCloud, Box, Flickr, Microsoft One Drive, Google, and Amazon are cloud options that could meet this need. Consider security, ease of use and price when choosing a cloud option on which to back up your files.

Change Your Usage Habits

Consider the types files and data that occupied the most space on your device:

If music was an issue, consider switching from downloading and storing music locally on your device to using a streaming service or joining a music subscription service. Some such services include Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and SoundCloud.

While these apps and services can alleviate storage issues, they may not offer offline streaming of tracks and if they do, it may impact your device’s storage.

If photos and video were an issue, ensure that 4K video recording, if possible on your device, is not a default setting. 4K video files are much larger than HD and full HD video files and are unviewable unless shown on a 4K TV or computer monitor.

If you are an Android user, consider using a mircoSD card to move files from internal storage to the microSD card.

Removable memory cards allow users to expand internal storage and offload files. If your Android phone does not include a file manager to move files form internal to microSD card storage (and vice versa), Mashable recommends the free file managers ES File Manager or File Manger.

iPhone, however, is not eligible for this storage tip as they do not have microSD card slots.


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