US prosecutors have been granted a delay of tomorrow's planned hearing in their legal battle to force Apple to break into an encrypted iPhone, saying they may have found another way to access the device.
The judge in the case scheduled a hearing for today to consider the request, and later granted it.
The unexpected development in the high-profile case raised questions as to whether the Justice Department might be backing off from its confrontation with Apple.
In a court filing, the department said an "outside party" had demonstrated to the FBI a possible method of unlocking the iPhone.
It said it needed a postponement of the hearing to test whether the method was viable.
The department will file a status report to the court by April 5. It said if the method works it would no longer need help from Apple to unlock the iPhone.
The government has obtained a court order requiring Apple to write new software to disable passcode protections on a phone used by one of the shooters in the December attack in San Bernardino, California.
Apple, with the backing of much of the tech industry, is fighting the order, contending that it will undermine computer security and privacy for all consumers.
More to come