Reports: Apple preps next iPhone firmware update

Apple Inc. will update the iPhone's firmware to Version 1.1.2 as early as this Friday, when the Cupertino, Calif., company starts selling the smart phone in the U.K. and Germany, several British and U.S. gadget and Apple enthusiast Web sites reported today.

They also speculated that the hacks -- only recently rebuilt after the 1.1.1 update blocked iPhone unlocking and other modifications -- will likely be broken again by the new update.

According to T3, a U.K. site that covers consumer electronics, the iPhone slated for sale on Nov. 9 comes with firmware Version 1.1.2. Among the enhancements is support for several additional language character sets, said T3, as well as a fix for a vulnerability in the TIFF image-rendering library, which is shared by the iPhone's Safari browser and e-mail program and by iTunes.

The TIFF bug that could be used to hijack any iPhone has been the foundation of some of the hacking tools needed to unlock, or "jailbreak," the smart phone to allow non-Apple software to be installed on the device. HD Moore of Metasploit publicized the bug last month by posting multiple exploits.

Meanwhile, said Sunday that its sources reported that Version 1.1.2 will break current unlocking software and perhaps some third-party applications as well.

The last time Apple updated the firmware, the new software disabled most unauthorized applications and "bricked" unlocked iPhones. It took developers and hackers weeks to resurrect their tool sets and unlock the software. For example, iPhoneSimFree, a group of developers that markets an unlock program through a network of online resellers, revised its SimFree application only a week ago.

Apple and AT&T Inc. have also been hit with several lawsuits related to the 1.1.1 firmware update. Last month, several suits accused Apple and its wireless partner of antitrust violations for crippling unlocked phones. One of the lawsuits seeks damages that could climb above the $2 billion mark.

The 1.1.2 firmware update will be released via iTunes, the iPhone's update platform.

Three days before it issued the 1.1.1 firmware update, Apple warned iPhone owners that the new software might disable modified phones. Today, Apple did not immediately respond to queries regarding whether it would make a similar warning prior to releasing 1.1.2.

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