Jobs confirms iPhone app blacklist feature

Some have called it a "kill switch" capability. Whatever the actual use might be, Apple's CEO says "we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull."

Straight from the horse's mouth: Apple's iPhones do indeed have the capability to check for, and potentially defang, software that Apple deems unfit for the iPhone.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirmed the existence of the so-called "kill switch" capability, following last week's ruckus over early reports of just such a function. The word from Jobs was tucked at the bottom of a story in The Wall Street Journal about Apple's hot-as-a-pistol first month of sales at its App Store.

The intent behind the capability is high-minded, Jobs said. Apple would need it in case a malicious program inadvertently were to be distributed to iPhones via the App Store.

"Hopefully, we never have to pull that lever," Jobs said, "but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull."

On Friday, John Gruber of Daring Fireball spoke with an "informed source" at Apple who confirmed the presence of a URL inside the iPhone's Core Location API that downloads a blacklist of applications designated as malicious. The URL had been discovered earlier in the week by independent iPhone developer and author Jonathan Zdiarski.

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