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