April 05, 2007

How long to unlock the iPhone Operating System?

Originally published two months before the iPhone launch and then updated occasionally, this post has morphed into a historical review of the evolution and challenges facing the iPhone operating system and Apple's control over the iPhone application offering set. It is by no means exhaustive. If you think I'm missing a key event in the timeline, please drop me an email. ~Cheers

A bunch of people claim the coolest thing about the iPhone is that it runs OS X or at least a customized version... however the agreement with Cingular locks the OS to apps of Apple and Cingular's choosing.

$50 says it takes less than 3 weeks after the iPhone goes to GA that someone hacks the OS to run whatever they want.

iPod Linux (Yes, I know it's a different beast)

Update: An indepth look at third party apps and the iPhone.

Update 2: Let the iPhone hacking begin.

Update 3: Early iPhone Hacking Efforts

Update 4: The iPhone Wi-Fi Vulnerability and Operating System security review

Update 5: August 2007, Unlocking the iPhone Software, Hardware, and Lawyers! Yay.

Update 6: March 2008, Apple finally launches an SDK and iPhone developer program. The catch, all apps must flow through Apple. Apple takes a cut and gets to assure AT&T that none of the apps will create odd network conditions. So long to the IT layer cake.

Update 7: June 2008, Since technical methods of keeping the iPhone locked to AT&T failed, now you can't buy an iPhone without activating AT&T service. Score: Technology 0, Process 1 for now.

Update 8: January 2009, you can now buy an unlocked 3g iphone

Update 9: May 2009, NY Times article on unauthorized iPhone applications

Update 10: June 2009, iPhone 3.0 unlocked

Update 11: July 2009, Apple claims Jailbreaking the iPhone OS could cause harm to AT&T's mobile network.

Update 12: Aug 2009, Apple discloses a bit about the iPhone App approval process which they claim includes scanning for security vulnerabilities - if true, very cool.

Update 13: Sept 2009, A developer discusses the iPhone App approval process.

Update 14: Feb 2010 Dude asks if the iPad will be cracked Uh, yes. Sweet bits of hardware with decent processors, nice UI's, and walled garden application approval processes get cracked. I thought we all knew that by now.

Update 15: April 2010, The iPad operating system is cracked less than a week after launch. In other news, the term Jailbroken is now synonymous with cracking an Apple OS.

Update 16: June 2010, The iPhone operating system 4.0 is renamed iOS (name licensed from Cisco which is either incredibly brilliant or stupid on Cisco's part depending on who you talk to), a beta version is Jailbroken two weeks BEFORE going live (a first). See also this article on where Jailbreaking is most common.

August 2010: Article by ReadWriteWeb on the compelling reasons to jailbreak iOS 4.

Update 18: April 2012, The New Yorker profiles George Hotz, the first guy to unlock the iPhone SIM George Hotz, the first guy to unlock the iPhone SIM

a name="more"> Posted by Abner on April 5, 2007 12:27 PM

Recent Entries
When Technology Fails, Try Process: iPhone instore activation
Revision3 vs. MediaDefender
Counterfeit Goods: The latest threat?
LCD TV Prank at CES
Wikipedia and Marketing
Marketing Vulnerability Fixes
NBC's Peacock Crows and Ohio's Voting Machines
Irrational Apples
iPhone's SIM Locks: Hardware vs. Software vs. Lawyers
Even (or especially) contests could use a security review
Vendors Responses: Voting Machines and the Pwnie Awards
Dude "Security Rocks"
iPhone Wi-Fi Vulnerability
Harry Potter Security
iPhone Hacking & Fustrations
Let the iPhone Hacking Begin
Geer heads to Washington, Again
This Just In: DRM still doesn't work
Phishing meets Internet Advertising
How long to unlock the iPhone Operating System?
Predictive Markets For Politics
The Irony of Phone Security Google Ads
Why Biometric Fingerprint Readers Are A Waste
How to Blag an Interview