Tech Industry

iPhone hackers say 'relock' on the way

After Apple warned iPhone users yesterday that the next software update could break their phones, the group behind one of the unlocking projects says they'll have a fix next week.

If you hacked your iPhone to run other applications or use it on other networks, the iPhone Dev Team wants you to wait before installing Apple's forthcoming software update.

The group credited with opening up the iPhone to both application development and networks other than AT&T's says it will have a fix out next week that will allow you to restore that iPhone to its factory settings, according to a statement attributed to the group that was posted on The Unofficial Apple Weblog. On Monday Apple warned iPhone users who had installed software for unlocking their phones that an iPhone update expected later this week could potentially break their phones, and that just downloading the unlocking software voids the iPhone warranty.

However, the iPhone Dev Team took issue with Apple's statement. "The removal of the lock, a bug, was a major step forward in the iPhone development. ...The removal of those firmware problems, which were built in in (sic) favor for AT&T, does not cause "damage" as they want to make us believe." The group promised to have a fix out next week that would relock the phones, which would ostensibly cover your tracks and let you bring your iPhone in for warranty service. But the statement also seemed to indicate that the hackers would immediately set upon Apple's iPhone update and find a way to make the unlocking software work with the update.

Apple doesn't really want you using the iPhone on networks other than AT&T's, or the European carriers announced last week. Part of it is to maintain the stability of its latest baby, but a good deal of it is probably related to the revenue-sharing deals Apple has struck with its carriers. If you don't use AT&T's network to download data, Apple doesn't see as much revenue.

The individuals behind the iPhone Dev Team, who prefer to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, feel that they should be allowed to do whatever they want with the iPhone, since they bought it. "Apple now announces that the next firmware update, expected later this week, will possibly break the handset of all of us free users in the World. It speaks of 'damage' done to the firmware and 'unauthorized access' to our own property," the group said in the statement.

It's not clear how many people have hacked their iPhones. Apple said earlier this month that it had sold 1 million since it was introduced June 29. The iPhone Dev Team said "several hundred thousand" iPhone users had hacked their phones, based on downloading statistics. But that seems awfully high, according to Shaw Wu of American Technology Research.