Hackers Chomp Apple, but Who's the Bad Guy?

Dennis Faas's picture

Hackers have already found a way into the newest iPhone software, just three months before it's officially launched to the public.

The new edition of the software is officially titled version 1.2, though will get the snazzier sounding '2.0' tag on its formal launch. Hackers got hold of the software because it's included in Apple's new Software Development Kit (SDK).

The main gripe between Apple and the hackers is that, while the firm encourages independent development of features to run on the phone, it wants tight control over how this is done. Apple is demanding they become the exclusive distributors of any new add-on features and will take a 30% cut of any sales.

Originally, Apple had wanted all developers to use the phone's built-in Safari web browser software to create new features. Developers said this wasn't enough to create impressive and useful applications and demanded access to the same software Apple's own staff use (included in the SDK). (Source: informationweek.com)

More than 100,000 people downloaded the SDK in the four days after its release, among them a hacking group calling themselves the iPhone Dev Team. They've already published pictures and video of their programs running on an iPhone with the 1.2 software. To do so theoretically requires a software license from Apple, but none have been released yet.

At the moment the hacked features only work on phones which have already been 'unlocked' to run on any phone network. But the hackers say they should soon be able to repeat the trick on an official AT&T-subscribed iPhone. (Source: modmyifone.com)

The case is a good example of how the traditional view of 'hacking' is outdated. The people behind this 'hack' aren't necessarily out to make a profit or cause any damage; instead they are trying to create useful features. The problem is that software firms like Apple argue that they need to control and restrict how independent developers use their technology: partly as a form of quality control for ordinary consumers, and partly to protect their own licensing deals.

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