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Monday, November 26, 2007, 03:10 pm PT (06:10 pm ET)

Early iPhone SDK; T-Mobile iPhone unlock in iTunes; more

Apple may not be waiting to get developers started on writing programs for the iPhone. Also, the first official unlock method for the iPhone is active and only requires iTunes — plus the right phone ID — to work.

Apple handing out advance iPhone developer kits?

Apple is giving a few preferred companies a headstart on writing native programs for the iPhone with an early software development kit, according to a fresh claim by Electronista.

The unverified but purportedly reliable sources tell the technology site that a few companies have received their kits two weeks ago, months ahead of the official February release of the tools.

The description appears to confirm hints given by Apple marketing VP Greg Joswiak in a recent interview that promise an contained programming environment. Rather than write in a typical programming environment, the developer kit will "mediate" the code and allow Apple to maintain a buffer between the phone itself and programmers.

Writing native third-party programs for the iPhone is much like writing for Google's OpenSocial platform for applications shared between social networking sites and has its limits, the report says.

None of the companies are named, but a "major social networking site" is at least exploring the concept of a native iPhone program, according to the rumor.

T-Mobile's iPhone unlock uses iTunes

Germans buying the new unlocked iPhone are asked to do so through Apple's iTunes software in a way that continues to give the iPhone maker control over the activation process, according to a testing by a German Mac fan website.

Instead of receiving an unlock code over the phone or visiting a store, customers buy a standard €399 iPhone and choose to pay an extra €600 to unlock the device in iTunes. The software then reportedly compares the phone's IMEI, or its worldwide cellular identification number, to an Apple database which determines whether the phone can be unlocked — giving the California firm final control over the process.

The whole process takes no more than 24 hours but can activate a fully unlocked phone within seconds, say anecdotal reports from early adopters contacting the fan site.

Hearing on T-Mobile iPhone sales due this week

A Hamburg court announced on Monday that it will hold a hearing for rival provider Vodafone's legal complaint about the exclusivity of the iPhone this Thursday, November 29th.

The hearing will be T-Mobile Germany's first opportunity to defend the deal with Apple, which gave T-Mobile sole rights to sell the iPhone in the country and which locked the phone to outside firms. Vodafone successfully argued last week that the exclusivity was anti-competitive and obtained an injunction that currently forces T-Mobile to allow an unlocked version of the cellphone that works with any carrier.

T-Mobile maintains that it has done nothing wrong and says its deal will survive the legal process.

Report: Apple ahead of the curve in touchscreen yields

The iPhone and iPod touch are leading the touchscreen market when it comes to useful production units, says a report from DigiTimes.

The Taiwan publication cites suppliers who claim a 90 percent adhesion rate between the glass and touch input layers for all of Apple's touchscreen displays, guaranteeing that relatively few of the screens have to be rejected during production. By contrast, competing products only achieve yields between 70 and 80 percent.

Apple's challengers will catch up and reach the 90 percent marker sometime next year but will be overshadowed by further gains from Apple in the same period, the report adds.