Apple's Updated iPod Touch And iPhone Hacked - InformationWeek

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1/22/2008
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Apple's Updated iPod Touch And iPhone Hacked

The 1.1.3 "jailbreak" supposedly requires hardware modification, which will keep casual iPhone users away.

Apple's recently updated iPhone, version 1.1.3, and its iPod Touch have reportedly been hacked.

A video posted at iPhone Atlas, an iPhone news site, purports to show an iPod Touch running the 1.1.3 software/firmware update that Apple released last week and what appears to be an unauthorized installer application for running third-party programs.

iPhone Atlas claims that it has confirmed the legitimacy of the video and that the hack works on both the iPod Touch and iPhone. Ben Wilson, senior editor at CNET, which owns iPhone Atlas, attested to the legitimacy of the hack.

The developers of the hacked software are waiting to release their "jailbreak" application until Apple releases its official iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) next month, according to iPhone Atlas.

It remains to be seen whether anyone will really use the hack after it is released. Apple's habit of releasing periodic updates that break past hacks already places something of a burden on those who have chosen to flout Apple's wishes by modifying their iPhones. The 1.1.3 "jailbreak" supposedly requires hardware modification, which will keep casual iPhone users away. And the imminent arrival of an authorized method for creating and running third-party application on the iPhone is likely to make unauthorized approaches even less appealing.

"I think the relevance of the iPhone hacks decreases with every passing day," said Jason Snell, VP and editorial director of Macworld. "And that's been the case since Apple has announced there would be a way for third-party developers to access the iPhone."

Snell said that the iPhone hacking community is in limbo at the moment. Those who want to develop their own applications on the iPhone remain uncertain about the terms under which Apple will authorize iPhone app development. "There's a fear out there from a lot of people... that Apple's third-party approach will be too restrictive," he said.

In October, 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggested that that some restrictions were necessary to protect the iPhone and its users from malware. He cited Nokia's approach of using digital signatures to identify developers as "a step in the right direction."

"If Apple comes out and it's a fully featured SDK and anyone can do it, that's going to reduce the interest in the hacked side to a really minor level," said Snell.

But if Apple's tight control of its iTunes ecosystem offers any sort of parallel to the way the company intends to manage iPhone development, expect iPhone hacking to flourish.

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