The Connections tool is gone – which is good!

A very provocative title isn’t it? But yes, it’s true, it is good. I will explain why.

I have received a couple of support mails regarding the no longer working Connections tool. Some people were just wondering when it will come back. Some are blaming Apple for it and one unpleasant person even had nothing else to do than blaming me with loads of unpleasant words and sentences that I don’t want to repeat here (but I will if this person doesn’t stop this).

So what has happened ? I am usually testing compatibility of my Apps with pre-release versions of iOS. In case some action is required I will prepare an update. At some point, Apple released a pre-release that prevented the Connection tool to work. Often, such thing happened and with further pre-releases things get back to normal – and so it does. The Connections tool started working again. But later, with the latest Release Candidate of iOS 10 it discontinued to work again so I started investigating why.

It turned out that Apple has completely removed an API I was using to generate the connection list for the Connections tool. By that date, I investigated in many alternatives which all turned out not to work (anymore or not at all on an i-Device). That was sad as I am also using this Tool quite often, whenever I like to analyze suspicious behavior of newly installed Apps and often discovered bad “calls home” or other undesired connections (e.g. Flurry).

On the other hand, while implementing the Connections tool some time ago, I was even surprised that Apple did offer the API in question as it also allows many other even bad things to do. Other Apps can and likely may have already used the same API for other, undesirable purposes. After implementing the Connections tool and submitting the App to Apple, I also expected that Apple will reject my App – which was obviously not the case.

The problem here is, that even though I call it API, it’s not really a typical “officially documented” API. It was rather a system call with very specific parameters. Such a system call is hard to identify within the review process and that’s probably why. But as mentioned before, this system call can also be used for many other things I definitely don’t want another App to do on my iPhone or iPad.

So even though it’s sad that the Connections Tool can now no longer be used, it is good that this particular API (or System call) is gone. This is indeed a real gain in security and I am hoping Apple will continue to walk this Path. I think it is way more important that our i-Devices can not be compromised and that bad Apps can harm our security and privacy and I think it’s worth the disadvantage that we now no longer have a Connections tool available.

I think Apple is doing a great job by not only continuously adding new great features but also care for security. This is why all my Android Devices (I have quite a few since I used to develop Android Apps as well but discontinued some time ago) remain in my drawer and will not be connected to my internal network. Those devices are quite insecure and exactly the opposite. Google doesn’t care about security and they are even the worst data spy themselves. A Connections tool for Android would still be possible of course but I would not trade any Android Device with any of my iPhones or iPads.

So as you can see, it is very unlikely that the Connections Tool may come back in the future but there is no reason to complain about Apple. They did their job well.

I leave it up to you to decide if it is me who needs to be blamed.

Don’t trust the evil!

Regards,

Marcus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


New Update available!

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A new version of NetworkToolbox is available.

The new version contains various changes, additions and fixes:

■ Renewed Bluetooth Tool

I have completely re-written the Bluetooth LE scanner. It is now more reliable and easier to use.

■ New Health Check Tool

This new Tool can be used to perform recurring pre-defined tests. You can add multiple sites (IP Addresses or hosts) and perform Ping, Certificate, Mailserver and other tests with a single button press. This way, you can quickly check the availability of components either in your home network or your Internet Servers.

■ New SMB Tool

You can now even browse Windows or other Samba shares using this new Tool. It is also possible to download files.

■ New Speed Test Tool

This new Tool implements the iPerf Speed Test standard and can be used to perform Network Speed/Bandwidth tests to one of the public iPerf Servers or even between two NetworkToolbox Apps running on the Network since the Tool also provides the possibility to run an iPerf Server.

■ Further improved network scan

Now, SMB Network Names and Vendor Names will be displayed in the list itself and not only on the detail screen.

■ Export Settings

As requested, you can now export the settings either for backup purposes or to submit the settings (including the user passwords etc.) to another iOS Device.

■ Reverse DNS and DNS Lookup improved

Even though the Tool is still called NS-Lookup, it is now rather a multipurpose tool that shows all kind of information available to an IP Address or host such as DNS Record information, Revers DNS Lookup, Provider information and more.

■ Macros for Telnet and SSH

It is now possible to write and maintain Macros that can be submitted from inside the Telnet or SSH Tool. Macros also let you sent special Key combinations and supports delays.

■ Other Telnet and SSH improvements

The Keyboard window will now only cover the necessary part of the screen and in case you are using a hardware keyboard, you will now see the full telnet/ssh screen.

Now you can also directly send special keys that are not available on the software or hardware keyboard.

■ WOL (Wake on Lan) has been built in

■ HTTP Head Tool improvements

This Tool now also shows the Status code returned from the Server and an explanation of the meaning this code.

■ IPv6 support

Most Tools now support IPv6 where appropriate. If available, you will see IPv4 as well as IPv6 addresses in the result lists of several tools. You can also enter IPv6 addresses in several Tools in the same way you enter IPv4 addresses.

■ New IP Calculations

With the introduction of IPv6 Addresses, there are also three new Calculations for the IP-Calculation Tool such as IPv4 to IPv6, 6to4/6RD and Teredo calculations.

■ New Manual

As you may already know, this App contains a lot of information and help texts with general information as well as for each individual tool and how to use it (Thanks again to Martin who helped me out here). Several users appreciated that but asked for a separate manual so they can read it side by side with the App. This is now possible. I have moved the existing content and added some more text to a separate manual, which can also be opened from here: http://go-to.me/nettb-manual but also still from inside the App by hitting the (i) button as usual. If you prefer a printed version, you can also download the manual as PDF file.

■ Bye-bye to the connections Tool

With iOS 10, Apple has removed an API which has been used for the Connections Tool. This means, that this tool no longer works under iOS 10 and you will get an according message if you try to use it. Even though it is not nice that this valuable tool now no longer can be used, Apples decision is a major increase on Security as this API could have also been used for other purposes by any App.

■ Other bug fixes and improvements

Besides the lost Connections Tool, NetworkToolbox is now fully compatible with iOS 10 and even uses some of the new advantages. On an iPad Pro, it can also run in Multitasking and Split Screen mode and it runs just fine on the new iPhone 7 devices.

 

As you can see, there were many changes with this new Update. It even took quite some time as due to IPv6 Support major parts of the App needed to be re-written.

This said, I wouldn’t be surprised if me or my valued Beta Testers would have missed one or two Bugs. Please don’t worry and just let me know so I can fix it timely.

Updating this App means that it will lose all your nice and kind reviews.

So please, after you installed the update, update your review as well or write a new one.

I hate these annoying nag-screens reminding users to write a review and don’t want to include that.

For your review, you can also tap here.

Thanks for your great support!

 

Kind regards,

Marcus


New Manual and new Version soon

Today, I am happy to announce the new Manual which is now already online for you from here:

http://manuals.creating-your-app.com/NetworkToolbox.

Several users found the included (i) Help texts useful but prefer to have the description side by side on another screen or even paper – which makes sense. This, I created the online manual.

Please note: This Manual already covers the next version with many new features and improvements. This new version will have this manual already included also from inside the App but I found it might already be useful for all users of the existing App version.

While talking about the next version. It took quite some time to get it done. This was basically because I had to re-write major parts of the App due to the fact that it now also supports IPv6. There are still some parts of the App which don’t fully work with IPv6 due to some oddities in iOS but I will either fix this during the next days or will leave it as is by now assuming that the majority of you will still use IPv4.

So please stay tuned for my announcement for the release of this update,
Best Regards,
Marcus