It's been over a month now since law enforcement used the All Writs Act to attempt to force Apple to create a back door that would allow the FBI to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5C. If you're not familiar with the matter, Apple said that they wouldn't do it, almost immediately.
Since then, shots have been fired from both sides. Law enforcement suggested at one point that they could force Apple to hand over the source code for iOS; meanwhile, Apple had won a key victory in New York.
The story goes on and on, and it brings us to today. Before Apple announced the iPhone SE and a 9.7" iPad Pro today, Tim Cook took the stage to talk about how Apple has a duty to protect their customers' data, and that they will fight this to the end.
In a turn of events, the FBI asked to cancel tomorrow's hearing. So, why did the FBI decide to do this? Did they suddenly realize the value of Americans' privacy? No, as it turns out, they think that they've found another way to get into the iPhone in question.
The vacate document states the following:
On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possiblemethod for unlocking Farook's iPhone. Testing is required to determine whether it is available method that will not compromise data on Farook's iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. ("Apple") set forthin the All Writs Act Order in this case.
Of course, this is far from over. Law enforcement has to provide a status update on April 5, which is two weeks from the date of the scheduled court appearance.
In a way, this may be the best solution for everyone. If this plan is successful, law enforcement will be able to do their jobs and Apple won't have to build a back door into their OS. Everybody wins.
Of course, if someone does know how to penetrate an iPhone's defenses, that's a hole that Apple is going to want to fill at some point. When they do, there is no doubt that a case such as this will come up again.