It appears the mysterious third party that promised a way to access locked iPhones has come through: The order stating Apple must decrypt the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters has been vacated, at the request of the Department of Justice.
A week ago, the DOJ filed asking for a delay in a hearing on the order, stating that during the ongoing court battles (a court initially ruled in the Department of Justice's favor, which Apple appealed), a third party had reached out to them with a method it believed could successfully unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.
This came after the DOJ had previously stated that it had exhausted all other options regarding accessing the contents of the county-issued phone.
What that method was — or who approached the DOJ — is still unknown. Officials, speaking on background to USA Today, denied that the company was Cellebrite, as was widely reported elsewhere.
Whatever relief to the tensions this provides is likely to be short-lived: A number of other cases in which the government is demanding assistance in accessing encrypted devices are working their way through the courts, and neither side appears willing to back down.