Feeds

UK firm preps iPhone unlocking software

Walls come tumbling down

Security for virtualized datacentres

A UK firm that specialises in unlocking mobile phones reckons it's close to developing an application that would allow iPhone owners to use the device with carriers other than America's AT&T.

John McLaughlin, founder of Uniquephones, told IDG that his software engineers were working "around the clock" in order to bypass Apple's restriction that ties activation of the iPhone to signing up to a two-year contract with AT&T.

Uniquephones said it is "almost ready" to release a public beta of iPhone unlocking software. It claims the pre-release technology is already able to unlock 75 per cent of all the iPhones it has tested using unlock codes generated from the phones' IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbers.

Uniquephones plans to sell software designed to unlock iPhones for around $50, far more than it charges to unlock other mobile devices. The firm is highly unlikely to be the only outfit getting into the act.

Hackers have been hard at work trying to unlock the functionality of the iPhone since the devices were released in the US a week ago. Reverse engineer Jon Lech Johansen (DVD Jon) discovered a way to get iPod and Wi-Fi - though not the phone - features of the device working without signing up to AT&T within three days of its release.

The iPhone Development Project claims to have replicated this and has set out a program of goals including the ability to unlock the phone and run third party applications on the device.

Last year, the US copyright office ruled that it was legal for consumers to unlock their mobile phones in order to use them with other carriers, a decision AT&T and Apple may seek to contest, but one which gives hackers (and commercial firms) some leeway in opening up the functionality of the iPhone.

Uniquephones said it's received more than 150,000 inquiries from punters in learning how they might be able to unlock their iPhones since last weekend, many of whom have submitted their IMEI numbers. Complaints about the slowness of AT&T's data services are among the factors generating this interest, according to McLaughlin.

Prising an iPhone away from its ties with AT&T is a more complex business than providing an unlock code. Firstly, it's necessary to make changes to an AT&T SIM other than the one supplied with an iPhone that can work with the phone and be activated through iTunes. After this has been achieved there's still the problem of cracking the protection that means attempts to change the iPhone's firmware in order to support another carrier's SIM card can break the phone.

Even then the device would only work on GSM-based US networks and could be undone if Apple issues a firmware upgrade (through the iPhone synchronisation process) or frustrated by legal challenges. McLaughlin concedes that Apple is likely to take legal action against Uniquephones based on changes its unlocking process makes to the firmware loaded on iPhones rather than the act of unlocking the phones, which is legal. "They'll probably come after us for copyright infringement," he said. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.