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Saturday, August 09, 2008, 08:05 am PT (11:05 am ET)

Apple releases new iPhone 2.1 beta as crackers break 2.0.1

Apple has issued a third beta of its iPhone 2.1 upgrade but is being characteristically secretive with details of what it changes. Simultaneously, however, the just-launched 2.0.1 firmware has already been cracked to allow unofficial apps.

Beta 3 of the upcoming iPhone firmware makes no specific mention of new additions and, upon early inspection by those familiar with the update, primarily resolves bugs from earlier builds.

The fix nonetheless comes just a week and a half after the release of beta 2 and indicates a short turnaround schedule for Apple's test releases, which started on July 24th.

The 2.1 refresh is expected to center around the background push notification service that allows live apps to receive Internet data while shut down, but will also have directional GPS support that enables more complex navigation than the simple positional system used with 2.0.

Those not content to wait for official Apple software solutions, however, now have their own update.

The iPhone Dev Team's PwnageTool 2.0.2 allows users to jailbreak any iPhone running the recent 2.0.1 firmware that appears to have broken previous hacks.

Like earlier builds, however, full unlocking to enable support for unofficial cellular carriers is limited to original iPhones due to a change in the cellular baseband with the 3G hardware, which prevents the previous trick from working.

As always, these tools carry the risk of bricking the iPhone's firmware and have no support from Apple either during or after the install process.