It’s not an easy riddle to untangle. The update seems to have affected different iPhones in different ways. Although there are plenty of stories about unlocked phones being “bricked” by the update, there are anecdotal reports of unlocked phones that worked just fine under 1.1.1 — albeit only with AT&T’s (T) service, not T-Mobile’s or any other carrier’s. Some phones modified by third-party software were also broken by the update; others lost their unapproved applications but were otherwise unaffected. Even some virgin, unmodified phones were rendered inoperable, for reasons that remain mysterious.
As Erica Sadun of The Unofficial Apple Weblog (
) puts it: “the transition from working iPhone to brick seems to be a completely random process.”
Part of the problem is that the firmware that launches the iPhone is as complicated as a tropical ecosystem, subject to innumerable variables. Rainer Brockerhoff, a Brazilian programmer who hosts a site called
, has written a description of the device’s start-up routine that gives you a feel for the intricacies involved. In the iPhone, he writes …
Meanwhile, programmers trying to work with the iPhones that survived software update 1.1.1 find themselves in a whole new world of coding difficulties. Erica Sadun, who in addition to a passel of books has written several (now obsolete) iPhone apps, including Snap (for iPhone screenshots), and VoiceNotes (a voice recorder), puts the changes Apple made in layman’s terms:
Even programs like Ambrosia‘s popular iToner ringtone maker — which played by Apple’s rules and asked nothing more of the device than to put a file in user memory — no longer works under 1.1.1.
In an interview with tuaw‘s Mat Lu, Ambrosia president Andrew Welch was gracious about Apple’s legitimate business needs and his company’s bad luck (this is the second time an Apple software update has broken his $15 program), but admits to being frustrated.
Apple’s defenders are quick to point out that there’s a limit to how far the company can be expected to go in support of outside developers — especially those who used hacks like Jailbreak to alter iPhone’s firmware. On the
Mac Observers’ Apple Finance Board
, a systems developer who posts under the handle dmiller wrote earlier this week:
Third-party programmers like Sadun don’t necessarily disagree. But that doesn’t make them any less saddened by the developments of the past week.
“It’s disappointing, because the iPhone was a very good platform,” she says. “It was delight to use and a delight to write for. It’s a shame.”
[Apple Store photo courtesy of E. Sadun/tuaw.]