hacking

Hacking on Windows Phone is a pretty nonexistent sport. Earlier we told you guys about HackerTeam and their claims of having full control over Windows Phone, but there’s no way to validate their claims. Here’s something we can validate, the Samsung ATIV Odyssey has joined the ATIV S and has been Interop Unlocked. This opens the gates for potentially deeper level OS changes on the Odyssey.

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When it comes to mobile platforms, Windows Phone 8 is reportedly very secure. Just look at the jailbreak scene on Windows Phone compared to Android and iOS. Sure, the lower number of handsets could be a valid reason why hackers haven’t exactly targeted the platform, but you think by know we’d be seeing more on the rooting/jailbreak front by now.

Publicly the platform is more or less secure. However, a mercenary-like hacking group called HackingTeam allegedly has control over all operating systems, including Windows Phone.

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Interop-unlocking of the Samsung ATIV S has reportedly been accomplished, opening the gates for deeper level OS changes

The hacking scene for Windows Phone 8 so far has been pretty dismal, with a lot of the legends in the community moving on to more open systems like Android. Although Windows Phone 7.x did see some minor movement within the fringe hacking community, its replacement OS has not met the same fate. The reason for that is Windows Phone 8 was unable to be interop-unlocked, a phrase not familiar to most casual users.

When it comes to operating systems, especially Windows Phone, there are different levels. Developer unlocking is the easiest and can be achieved by joining Microsoft’s developer program. Once registered, users can unlock their device by connecting to a computer and logging in. This allows developers to side-load XAP files i.e. apps not from the Store. But even side-loaded XAP files are sandboxed by the OS and cannot touch the deeper level functions. OEMs and carriers get access to this area, which is why they can roll out system updates.

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For those of you who are into the ‘homebrew’ hacking community for Windows Phone, you’ll want to take note that Jaxbot, the man behind the site Windows Phone Hacker (www.windowsphonehacker.com) will sadly be retiring.

Jaxbot just graduated from high school—yes, he was a young lad---and he will be moving on to college in the fall, where he hopes to take on other projects and adventures. We can’t blame him as he’s at that age where being pigeonholed into one area is not something you want to have happen. It’s a time to explore and experiment, though we hope he continues to dabble in Windows Phone.

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If you're on the cutting edge of Windows Phone hacking and homebrew then you probably have a fully unlocked device with a custom ROM running "Tango" 8773. If so, then you may want to take a look at this latest creation from Zealson over at XDA.

The simple XAP file will launch a mini-app to allow you to change the battery meter to a custom version. The meters have four options available: default, horizontal, vertical and circular with the latter three having a percentage number for a semi-accurate reading of your remaining battery life.

We say semi-accurate as the percentage doesn't get down to the 1% range and instead looks to be at 10% increments. Such a limitation is due to the API though who knows what magic these devs can whip up, so there may be hope for 1% changes too.

Of course as we mentioned at the beginning, only fully-unlocked ROMs can install this and luckily the Titan and Radar are now in that camp too

Source: XDA Forums

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"Enthusiasts" can now load custom ROMs on devices like this HTC Titan

Good news for those with "2nd generation" Windows Phone like the HTC Radar and HTC Titan, the Dark Forces Team (DFT) have released their custom Hard Secondary Program Loader (HSPL) for those devices, including a "wizard" to guide you through the somewhat complicated process. Announced back in March, the team has made solid and steady progress over the last few months on the project.

HSPLs are needed to "unlock" the bootloader of certain smartphones in order to get custom ROMs to load onto them (think of it as a layer of security). Without this tool-set, modified OS's for those devices simply have nowhere to go. Now that these tools are available comes the second step: the creation of custom ROMs which will require some "chefs" to cook them up,

Second generation HTC devices have been notoriously difficult to crack for DFT so this is a fairly big win for the homebrew community. Unfortunately, devices like the Titan II still won't work with this tool so it's best to still wait for DFT to get that going.

In a well planned release, there are at least two custom ROMs now available too:

  1. HTC Titan by mwang - Tango OS (8773), Replace HTC Apps software,add Registry editor,file explorers ...etc; Few tweaks ,DFT FullUnlock support XAP IE download and install,full play XBL games; ISharing,Static MAC Address
  2. HTC Radar by mwang - Tango OS (8773), Replace HTC Apps software,add Registry editor,file explorers ...etc; Few tweaks ,DFT FullUnlock support XAP IE download and install,full play XBL games; ISharing,Static MAC Address

Once again we need to stress to proceed with caution when attempting these modifications as this can "brick" your phone if you don't follow the directions carefully.  Regardless, it's exciting to finally see some movement on these two fantastic Windows Phones. We're sure the community will be releasing some fantastic creations over the next few months.

Source: XDA Forums; via: WP7.com.pl; Thanks, Tony and dragonide, for the tips

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So far, custom ROMs for so-called Gen 2 devices like the HTC Titan and Radar are nonexistent. This has to do with changes to the bootloader which has proved to be a difficult beast to unlock and therefore, reflash a new ROM onto. As a result, devices like the HD7 and even the HD2 are getting some of the latest, cutting edge OS builds while Gen 2 devices are left waiting with official releases.

That may (we stress, may) all be changing as the Dark Forces Team (DFT) are reportedly working on getting those custom ROMs for the Titan and Radar, or so says Cotulla (@CotullaCode) who recently tweeted "DFT team is working under ability to flash custom ROMs for Omegenka and Titanchik"

Nothing else was revealed like an ETA or progress of such a project, but honestly what more can we ask other than those fine DFT folks at least try to work on this? DFT has made a lot of headway in making custom ROMs for Windows Phones in the past (and even for Samsung devices), so if any group can do this, it'll be them.

We'll keep you posted if and when any developments occur.

Source: @CoutllaCode; via Windows Phone Hacker

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If you haven't checked it out already, then you should head over to our developer forum. It is one of the newer sections in the growth of the forums. And it's not just for developers!

The default Metro look on Windows Phone 7 is certainly beautiful, but is not for everyone. So if you're looking to change the look of your device, then go take a look through all the different themes that our users have created, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Next up, would you like to beta test some applications/games? You will not need an unlocked phone, and it's a good chance to try out new products before the rest of the world. Also, if you are a developer why not request some testers in the forum. It always helps getting a second pair of eyes on your work.

Then, for you more adventurous individuals, we have the Software Development and Hacking section where you can get help with a potential problem with Zune/Chevron or maybe just post screen captures of your WP7.

Finally, if you need help getting started with WP7 dev or want to take advantage of a great offer for free app translation to Swedish then go on over to the developer section.

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We covered SmartBot mini last week, and how it's exciting to see the development evolve for both Windows Phone and Android. Find the above, a video that was promised by WPBots that will give you an idea as to how cool SmartBot really is. The above video illustrates general movement and mobility via the remote, but there are a few more which can be found after the break showing other intriguing functionality.

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SmartBot mini: a Windows Phone robot

Remember when we first spoke of WPBots, a website dedicated to taking Windows Phone (among other platforms) to the next level? Well, they are on the way to creating Skynet with the SmartBot mini prototype.

This robot will cater for every Windows Phone size, including the massive HTC Titan. The SDK allows the robot to be controlled with seven movements and uses the camera API to bring in the following functionality:

  • Face tracking
  • Object tracking
  • Face recognition
  • Light tracking
  • OCR
  • Tag reading (data matrix, bar code, etc.)
  • Edge detection for maze resolver
  • Line follower

There's even more than this which is set to make any hackers day. Head on over to WPBots for more detail. A video demo is to be uploaded this week.

Source: WPBots

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It's been awhile since we talked about DFT's custom ROMs for Windows Phone 7, specifically those ROMs for Gen 1 HTC devices. Part of that is because most of us are pretty happy with our ROMs and the other is most of us have the latest version to boot. Still, the appeal of having a completely unlocked OS with a few bonus features is appealing.

DFT is hard at work with the follow up to their original release and in a threat at ol' XDA they have an informal poll about how to support languages (keep the same, go back to an older style, WWE + one language).  But in a small P.S. to the users, they drop the fact that they've figured out WiFi tethering/Internet Shaing for HTC devices--something that's been tough for 1st Gen HTC phones to hack on as of this moment.

And as a nugget of hope for our CDMA friends, when asked about future CDMA support which so far has gone missing, they chime in with "you will get it soon". Sounds good to us and certainly makes the idea of a custom ROM a little more tempting. Then again, you'll still have to wipe the device clean to do this, a hurdle which won't be fixed in #2, so maybe not.

Thanks, Chris P., for the tip using our app!

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You know what we need? How about an awesome site dedicated to hacking Windows Phone hardware so that it can connect to printers, keyboards and robots. Yeah, robots!

The site is filled with all sorts of tutorials and videos on how to add a serial port, add some programming for interfaces, make your phone interact with Terminators, etc. Okay, that last one hasn't been posted yet, but c'mon, it's just a matter of time.

No doubt this is for the Radio Shack crowd as these aren't necessarily easy if you don't have hardware hacking or software programming skills (that's us on both accounts), but for those who tinker and want to push their Windows Phone to the next level...head here: www.wpbots.com

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We previously covered the famed hacker GeoHot possibly moving over to Windows Phone 7, and it seems that this is now possibly happening with Pwn2Own 2011 hacking contest listing GeoHot as a registrant on the Dell Venue, which is being held next week.

Update: We're now told Geohot had to back out due to the ongoing Sony lawsuit with him needing to devote time to that instead. Thanks, @aaronportnoy.

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Awhile back, we first broke the news about Windows Phone 7 and the tough protection scheme Microsoft has implemented to prevent piracy. Specifically, private keys (PVKs) which are tied to the hardware and need to server-authenticate. This hurdle would prevent non-approved devices from accessing all LIVE services and severely limit device functionality. Interestingly enough, just weeks later this was confirmed by team DFT, who were attempting to hack WP7 to the aging (but versatile) HTC HD2.

Fast-forward today and it is being claimed (not yet demonstrated) that certain aspects of PVK has been breached. But, like before, they're still far from a viable implementation. Pocketnow has summarized this as follows:

Several different methods are being attempted to bypass the limitation, including the search for a so-called "corporate key," which would essentially be a universal PVK for large-scale activations. Unfortunately, because all devices are security-flashed at the factory, such a key may not even exist. Secondly, overseas developers -- beyond the reach of Microsoft legal, apparently -- are said to be hacking the different bits of the device-side authentication piecemeal, but because of the unusually intricate security measures employed by Redmond, "it doesn't really look good" according to our source.

What does this all mean? In reality, that nothing has changed. While porting portions of the WP7 OS to the HD2 is doable, attempting everything is and will remain very difficult. So difficult in fact, it begs the question if this is worth all the effort. At least here in the U.S., with a new Samsung Focus fetching for $99 without 3rd party sales, WP7 hardware seems cheap enough to negate the value of hacking a broken but new OS onto the HD2.

Source: PocketNow

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We mentioned last night about developer Chris Walsh getting full file system access to an HTC and Samsung device and how this was just the beginning.

Wasting no time he just posted this video demonstrating what file access looks like and it's pretty exciting (well, if you're geeky enough).

He notes on his blog that this just a preview and that "You’ve got FULL access, create, delete, browse files etc. Just can’t delete system ROM files, IE coredll.dll (obviously)."

Cool. One more video after the break of root access.

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The other day, we mentioned about running native, unmanaged code on Winodows Phone 7. The achievement was illuminating since it showed that advanced "rooting" can take place on WP7and that modifying system software was feasible. A milestone, indeed.

A minor, but important, advancement was just accomplished by the same developer, Chris Walsh, who just tweeted that he has managed to get "registry and file system access" on an HTC and Samsung device, noting that the LG was next. This is good news because it shows that this type of work is device independent--something we would assume to be the case, but as the Samsung/LG tethering tricks show, sometimes there are device level differences after all.

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We've already seen how on LG and Samsung phones, accessing the diagnostic menu can allow one to enable USB tethering. Now it is becoming evident that we can run unmanaged, native code on our phones too. Well kind of.

First, unmanaged, native code just means direct access to the software systems e.g. phone, email, etc., not just Silverlight applications that 3rd parties use. Second, the requirement here is you need to be able to sideload apps and only developers who pay the $99 fee get access to that feature. However, we've already heard from one of our sources that the whole "unlocking" business is tied to a single registry edit, meaning it may not be hard to circumvent at all.

What this all means is this: we may, at some point, be able to load custom software that not only is not approved by Microsoft, but changes fundamental restrictions on the device as well. In addition, changes to Metro UI may be possible. Of course, we won't be able to distribute these through the Marketplace, so you'll have to have the iPhone-model of a Cydia-like store. Cydia is the non-approved Apple App store where all the "hacks" and non-approved software are distributed. We so no reason why this won't happen eventually for Windows Phone either.

All of this comes back to what happened today with Australian developer Chris Walshie who was able to run unmanaged, native code on his device. The file modified “Microsoft.Phone.InteropServices” which may allow COM access in the future. By being able to modify that and write into a program, he was able to do something that only Microsoft, carriers and OEMs could do. In other words, today was the 1st day and 1st big step in "freeing" our phones.

Source: iStartedSomething

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Although we're not even sure how one would begin modifying files on Windows Phone 7 to circumvent Xbox Live Leaderboards, Achievements or use pirated software, it looks like Microsoft is already thinking about it. Just in case.

In a new build of WP7 (not yet released), Conflipper (who is still very much in retirement, so don't get your hopes up) has found an interesting file that says:

This phone has been banned from Xbox LIVE for violating the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use. To protect the Xbox LIVE service and its members, Microsoft does not provide details about phone bans. There is no recourse for Terms of Use violations.

This is similar to what happened on the Xbox 360 in 2009 when nearly 1 million users were permanently banned for evidently modifying their Xbox hardware or using pirated software. Presumably, Microsoft is taking preventive action for when XDA and others start digging into the OS, looking to modify their new mobile OS. In that sense, this is no surprise. On the other hand, it is interesting to know that MS has a system nearly in place to react to such a scenario. So take warning gamers, as once you are banned, it's for evah.

Other notable finds were references in Internet Explorer for copy and paste:

|Cut|Copy|Paste|Encoding|Print Preview||

"Cuts the selection and puts it on the Clipboard."

"Inserts the Clipboard contents at the insertion point."

Of course we know copy and paste are coming soon, so this is just more evidence that the feature is already in the works. Sweet.

Thanks, Conflipper, for the info!

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We're used to some incredible work coming out of the XDA Developers forum, but this is all kinds of crazy.

Member marbalon has worked up an app called GRemote, which essentially turns your HTC Touch Pro or Touch Diamond into an uber-expensive Logitech MX Air Mouse, seen above.

Not familiar with the MX Air? Think computer mouse that you wave in the air to control the pointer.

Marbalon has rigged up this little gem to do the same for your computer, complete with scroll wheel, using your phone's built-in accelerometer.

Why call it GRemote and not just GMouse (despite the picture to the contrary)? marbalon hopes to add the following features:

  • Touchpad for devices without GSenor.
  • Keyboard.
  • GMedia, an applet to control media apps such as Winamp, etc.
  • Game controler.
  • GRemoteServer for Windows and Linux.

It shouldn't take a Ph.D. to get this running on your rig, but it will take a little networking know-how. So be sure to read through the thread first. Then get your download on, and get to waving your arms like a madman.

And bravo, marbalon, bravo.

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