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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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wow, this is refreshing!
By yacoub on 9/29/2007 7:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
Reading the comments here is a breath of fresh air after reading comments on apple-related blogs, which are frequently trolled by some painfully retarded Apple fanboys posting in every thread about the iPhone and iPod touch with inane comments along the lines of "THIS IS GREAT NEWS, I LOVE STEVE JOBS <3".

It's ridiculous that Apple removed functionality from the touch, just as it's ridiculous that they are killing the 3rd party app world for the iPhone with the new firmware.

It's ridiculous because they are only HURTING sales by doing these things. They have some absolutely confounded notion that people who already have a cellphone they're happy with will magically run out and buy an iPhone if they strip the iPod touch of all functionality except being an iPod. What morons! Honestly, the phone and camera functions alone are all you need to differentiate the two products enough to ensure the touch doesn't siphon any sales from the iPhone.

All they did by removing and neutering the software apps on the touch is dissuade folks who'd love to see some PDA functionality in the device. And all they do by locking down the firmware on both devices is dissuade potential buyers who would be interested if they knew a thriving 3rd party app community would be able to accentuate the apps on the devices for increased functionality.

Instead Apple has gone the way of other lumbering corporations (which is what they are showing themselves as becoming) by going with an anti-customer policy. They no longer care about the customer, they care only to extract the highest profit margin by offering the least function for the highest price. The irony of course being that leaving the software apps on the touch wouldn't have cost them an extra dollar since they were already in the firmware before they took the time and effort to remove them.

This is what so clearly demonstrates the anti-customer mentality: They actually went through expense - time and money - to REMOVE or neuter the apps that would have naturally ported right over to the touch from the iPhone ("same binaries" remember). So they had to pay their software team to remove several apps, modify the Calendar app to remove functionality, and then compile and QA test all the changes. That's a lot of effort to demonstrate your hate for your end user. And that action alone makes Apple worthy of being hated in return.




"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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