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Firmware update 1.1.1 will relock user's iPhones and force them to activate with AT&T.  (Source: Apple Inc.)
Apple has released its new firmware update, which alters unlocked iPhones

Those rushing in droves to unlock the Apple iPhone may be in for a surprise when they try out Apple's newest firmware update; version 1.1.1.

Apple released a statement earlier this week that, "Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed."

Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, claims, "This has nothing to do with proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked.  It's unfortunate that some of these programs have caused damage to the iPhone software, but Apple cannot be responsible for ... those consequences."

It turns out that the reports are true -- somewhat.  Apple released its controversial iPhone firmware update yesterday.  Among its new official features:

• iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store
• Louder speakerphone and receiver volume
• Home Button double-click shortcut to phone favorites of music controls
• Space bar double-tap shortcut to intelligently insert period and space
• Mail attachments are viewable in portrait and landscape
• Stocks and cities in Stocks and Weather can be re-ordered
• Apple Bluetooth Headset battery status in the Status Bar
• Support for TV Out
• Preference to turn off EDGE/GPRS when roaming internationally
• New Passcode lock time intervals
• Adjustable alert volume

iPhone unlocking has become very widespread, thanks to two key software offerings:  iPhoneSimfree and anySIM.  These programs "unlock" the iPhone and allow it to work on T-Mobile's compatible EDGE network.  In foreign countries, unlocking the phone's SIM card to other networks is the only way to currently enjoy phone service outside the U.S.  AT&T only provides service within the U.S.  England, France, and Germany are all getting dedicated providers in November, but until then or in other countries, there is no way to use the iPhone without unlocking it. 

It is unknown how many unlocked users there are but with over a million iPhones in the wild there is likely a substantial number.  The iPhoneDev group, based on the number of people who downloaded their software, thinks there are "several hundred thousand" users of unlocked iPhones-- a figure Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster takes as a rough upper bound. "Even if the average hacker downloads the software twice, that's still over 100,000 hacked," he says. "The story is far from over."

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has publicly denounced iPhone unlocking, saying Apple vowed to fight it and that "It's a constant cat and mouse game."

Firmware update 1.1.1 works perfectly on normal iPhones, with no reported issues, as expected. 

The update also does not destroy unlocked iPhones, contrary to what Apple indicated might happen.

It does however render them useless, unless you are willing to get an AT&T contract.  Installer.app and any other unlocking associated software is rendered useless by the update, as well.  It is still in the stored on the phone, but the application will no longer appear on the screen.  Further, the update puts unlocked iPhones into the Activation screen that awaited normal users when they first purchased their phone.

At the activation screen, users can try to activate using a valid AT&T activation card and iTunes.  The update appears to render iPhones unlocked by certain modification programs unable to activate at all, according to early reports.  For these applications, users replaced the unlocked SIM card with a fresh one to no avail. 


The program IPhoneSimfree allows iPhone activation with the AT&T card and iTunes, according to a statement from the software providers.  After activation, the iPhone will operate as normal, but will be locked to the network.

It has not yet been fully tested whether the phone can subsequently be unlocked by any means without at least partially crippling the device.  Part of unlocking software's operation relies on updating the seczone region of the phone's memory.  The firmware update apparently clears any updated values and restores the memory to its default configuration, relocking the phone to the AT&T network.  Further, the firmware update may have additional changes to help prevent this zone of the memory from being accessed.

iPhone users on 3rd-party networks should not install the 1.1.1 update if they wish to continue to use a non-authorized network.  The update is voluntary, so there is nothing stopping you from not doing so.


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RE: Collateral Damage?
By PitViper007 on 9/28/2007 3:51:14 PM , Rating: 5
And may well be illegal. The DMCA specifically allows for the unlocking of a phone for use on another network. This exemption was enacted in 2006.

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005021.php

To pull the pertinent exemption:

quote:
5. Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.

I have a feeling Apple is in for many lawsuits, or perhaps a class action.


RE: Collateral Damage?
By Dactyl on 9/28/2007 4:33:41 PM , Rating: 5
Apple has deliberately prevented people from making phone calls.

If someone needs to call 911 , but can't, they will have a valid claim against Apple.

Apple is potentially setting itself up for massive liability. It knew all along these phones would be bricked (Apple's public statements before the update prove this). Apple knew what could happen if a phone is bricked--that much is common sense. If you brick someone's phone, they can't call 911. Plain and simple.

I hope this doesn't happen to anyone. I hope nobody is seriously injured because of Apple's evil decision. That would be a tragedy.


RE: Collateral Damage?
By mdogs444 on 9/28/2007 4:49:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network


I agree with you Dactyl that in a way they are preventing people from making calls. But in a way, they are not. Im not an expert on the legal system, and havent seen one of the iPhone/AT&T contracts personally, but an argument could be made that the phone already had firmware installed enabling it to make phone calls. It was altered - against the phone & service agreement (at least so ive heard through forums) - so what the real legality of this is im not so sure.

Can you break the terms of your signed agreement, and hold the provider accountable at the same time? I guess we'll find out from lawyers.


RE: Collateral Damage?
By ltcommanderdata on 9/28/2007 4:49:51 PM , Rating: 4
Thankfully your concern has already been thought of by Apple. It's well known that even locked phones still have the ability to make "Emergency Calls". They may be sneaky, but they aren't stupid.

http://www.macworld.com/news/2007/09/27/iphoneunlo...


RE: Collateral Damage?
By NullSubroutine on 9/29/2007 5:13:38 AM , Rating: 5
I am a 911 Operator / Radio dispatcher. They are required by law to allow cell phones to dial 911 even after they no longer have service.

Trust me, I've gotten enough little kids playing with phones and dialing 911 off old cell phones.


"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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