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Apple posts iPhone 2.1 update; no word yet on 3G fixes

Few reports on whether new firmware solves dropped-call problems

September 12, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - As CEO Steve Jobs promised, Apple Inc. today released iPhone 2.1, a major software update for the iPhone that patches eight security vulnerabilities and is meant to address problems with frequently dropped calls and crashing applications.

According to initial reports from users posting to the company's support forum, iPhone 2.1 significantly boosts the speed of backups via iTunes, displays contacts faster and reduces the number of third-party application lockups.

However, too few reports have been logged about 3G reception issues -- including dropped calls, poor signal strength and slow downloads -- to conclude that 2.1 solves those problems, which users have complained about since the iPhone 3G launched in mid-July.

"Wow, I just finished installing 2.1 and I must say, so far ... I AM IMPRESSED," said a user identified as "tekniq840" on the iPhone support thread Friday morning. "So far, changes I've noticed [include] backups take about a minute now even with 6 pages of apps, apps install in seconds, no lag in text messages and much faster contacts.

"For once I don't feel like throwing the phone at the wall!"

Users had not yet been able to fully test v2.1's 3G connection capabilities, however, and so had little to share early Friday. "Reading the update info, I take it they just changed how the signal bar displays, so who knows how good the connection really is," noted someone going by "sws_uk" in a different thread on the same forum.

Apple posted the update shortly after 6 a.m. EDT and promoted its availability on the front page of apple.com.

The page detailing iPhone 2.1 touted some of the same improvements that Jobs promised Tuesday when he said it would fix "lots of bugs." According to Apple today, the update:

  • Decreases the number of dropped calls.
  • "Significantly" improves battery life "for most users."
  • Reduces time to backup to iTunes.
  • Quashes bugs that caused crashes when users had "lots" of third-party applications installed on their iPhone.
  • Improves the accuracy of the 3G signal-strength display.

Version 2.1 also adds in-phone use of the new "Genius" playlist generator, which creates on-the-fly playlists and produces purchase recommendations based on the selected song.

Apple also patched eight security vulnerabilities with iPhone 2.1. The eight include the same seven fixed earlier this week in the iPod Touch 2.1 update, as well as a patch for a bug that the company had actually fixed last January but then forgotten to add to iPhone 2.0 in July. That passcode bug let unauthorized users bypass the password-protected locking feature by tapping "Emergency Call" on the iPhone's password-entry screen, then double-tapping the Home button.

IPhone owners can upgrade their device to Version 2.1 by connecting to their Mac or Windows PC and launching iTunes. The update targets both the newer iPhone 3G model and the first-generation iPhone that relies only on EDGE networks.

Read more about Macintosh in Computerworld's Macintosh Topic Center.



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