Jobs: iPhone 2.1 update due Friday, fixes 'lots of bugs'

Apple Inc. will release an iPhone update Friday that CEO Steve Jobs promised today "fixes lots of bugs," including the dropped call problem that's plagued users since July.

User reaction was mixed on Apple's support forum, where some took a wait-and-see approach while others remained skeptical.

Near the end of Tuesday morning's roll-out of new iPods, Jobs announced iPhone v2.1's delivery date and gave a quick overview of its contents.

"It's a big update," Jobs said. "It fixes lots of bugs. You'll get fewer call drops, you will get significantly improved battery life for most customers. We have fixed a lot of bugs where [when] you have a lot of apps on the phone you're not gonna get some of the crashes that we've seen." He also said that iPhone 2.1 would dramatically cut the time it takes users to synchronize their phones to iTunes.

Users have complained about all four problems Jobs mentioned, but the one that has gotten the most attention from both customers and the media is the dropped-call issue.

Within days of the July 11 debut of the iPhone 3G, buyers began posting messages on Apple's support forums detailing weak signal strength -- even in areas supposedly covered by AT&T Inc.'s 3G network; slow download speeds; and frequently-dropped calls.

Three weeks ago, Apple released iPhone 2.0.2, an update the company said improved the phone's 3G functionality, a claim most users disputed. Since then, Apple has been hit by at least two lawsuits seeking class-action status that accuse the company of deceiving customers by claiming the iPhone reliably connected to 3G networks.

Reaction to the news of the impending iPhone update was mixed on Apple's support forum.

Some took Jobs' announcement at face value, and were willing to withhold judgment until they can download and install the update. "We should at least wait and see if the update lives up to his word," said a user tagged as "Ansuz82" on the iPhone support forum.

Others, however, were still angry that Apple had not been more forthcoming about the iPhone 3G problems and were skeptical that the company would be more transparent on Friday. "Let's see if those statements or any further detail actually make it into the firmware release notes," said "DaddyK" on a different thread. "Further bug detail would be the responsible thing to do."

A few wondered why the iPhone 2.1 update had been scheduled for Friday when a similar update, also dubbed 2.1, was available today for the iPod touch, the iPhone look-alike. "Why do we have to wait till Friday when people can buy an iPod touch today with 2.1 already on it?" asked "deimos256" just before the Apple event concluded. "Talk about deflated expectations, all this big update is gonna do is fix problems that never should have happened."

Ansuz82 pitched in with a possible answer. "More than likely it's a server load issue. I remember the last big update where iTunes and the iPhone/touch were updated. Downloads were going at a crawl. Staggering will help with that."

The user was referring to the version 2.0 update that Apple issued on the same day it launched iPhone 3G, when AT&T was forced to suspend in-store activations because Apple's servers had been overwhelmed.

Apple did post a 2.1 update for iPod touch users today. The update included patches for seven vulnerabilities, among them a fix for the DNS bug that was first disclosed in July and patched by Apple the last day of that month. Some researchers, however, maintained that Apple's July 31 fix didn't patch the vulnerability on Mac OS X clients.

iPhone 2.1 will presumably patch the same vulnerabilities on Friday.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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