Apple Takes First Attempt At Fixing iPhone Bug

Dennis Faas's picture

It looks as if Apple has attempted to fix the widespread connection glitches with the iPhone through a new software update. But it comes amid increased concerns about how much control the company has over users.

As we reported earlier this week, customers worldwide have complained about calls mysteriously dropping. It still appears the problem is that the phone often fails to pick up even a strong 3G signal (the high-speed connection which makes many of the data features possible) and was repeatedly switching to a traditional network signal instead, which often triggered the glitch.

The problem was traced to a chip in the phone, but it was unclear whether the chip was faulty or if Apple had placed an unnecessarily high cut-off point for the signal strength required to make 3G calls.

Apple has now released a new software update but won't give any details other than that it "fixes bugs". Given the timing, it seems likely it was an attempt to solve the connection problem. This would imply the cause was indeed the signal settings which, while an embarrassing blunder, would at least avoid the need for a major product recall to fix the chip. (Source:

The way the company updates the phone's software is already under close scrutiny after it emerged that the phones have a built-in mechanism allowing Apple to remotely disable any application, including those produced by third-party developers.

Apple says there is nothing sinister about this, arguing it is designed so the firm can block any applications it finds are malicious and pose a security risk.

BusinessWeek quotes Jon Zdziarski, who discovered the mechanism, as saying "The idea that Apple can choose what functionality my applications should have frightens me." (Source:

However, on his own blog, Zdiarski points out that many media outlets have exaggerated the powers Apple has by this method. As far as he can tell, disabling (rather than deleting) applications is all it can do, and even then it only works on those which use GPS technology. (Source:

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