New iPhone 2.0.1 Software Fixes Bugs, Potentially Blocks Unlocking

Apple quietly released a new software update late Monday for the iPhone and iPod Touch, bumping up the version to 2.0.1.

The release information didn’t detail exactly what was changed in the new software, other than just general bug fixes. It does appear to be an entirely new package as the update is 242 MB.

Early impressions of the new firmware, from our limited time thus far with it, are positive with the latest version ironing out many of the nagging issues that came with the initial version 2.0 that debuted with the iPhone 3G. Contact lists now appear without any jarring lag and everything appears to be back to the snappy pace that iPhone users had in pre-2.0 software. Even typing is back to the way it used to be, with no hiccups or pauses when quickly entering text.

While the new 2.0.1 software is generally good news to obedient and content cell phone users, those using the device on foreign networks or who just don’t like being tied down to a specific carrier will be less to be happy about.

According to the wizards behind the iPhone PwnageTool, which successfully activates, jailbreaks and for the 2G iPhone unlocks the Apple device, the new 2.0.1 software changes some of the rules that may make unlocking of the iPhone 3G decidedly more difficult.

The 2.0.1 software contains in it a new baseband for the iPhone 3G, perhaps making much of the already-invested work in unlocking the 2.0 firmware practically wasted.

The PwnageTool hackers warned in their latest update, “Remember, from a jailbreaking point of view the update process is always reversible, but this isn’t the case for the 3G baseband, so your intended long term future use for the phone should help you decide what you do. If you always going to use the 3G phone with the original carrier then baseband updates are fine, if you are not then hold off.”

First generation iPhone users, however, appear to be in the clear from all sides. “2G is completely pwned at every conceivable level and you’ll always be OK. But if you own a 3G iPhone and are looking for unlock in the near future, don’t use Apple’s update yet !”

While it’s in the business interests of Apple and many wireless carriers to lock their handsets, the measures to keep the iPhone 3G under control has the undesirable side effect of disabling the device for users in Europe. According to reports from the Apple forums, users who have their handsets unlocked legally by Vodafone are suddenly finding their iPhones unable to connect to the network after the update. It’s unclear at the moment whether or not the errors are related to the new baseband locking measures.

In any case, the 2.0.1 firmware is just the bug fix update. The next big update, currently expected to be 2.1, will introduce new features, possibly the much asked-for copy, cut and paste functionality.

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