Update: Apple to fix iPhone SMS exploit

Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the launch of the iPhone 3G June 9, 2008, in San Francisco.

That was fast.

Good news for iPhone users worldwide: the BBC is reporting that Apple will release a patch for the much talked- (and worried-) about text message exploit demonstrated at the Black Hat 2009 conference Thursday in Las Vegas. [Editor's note: Apple released the patch Friday afternoon.]

The exploit allowed a hacker to gain control of an iPhone by sending it a series of text messages, leaving the owner with little recourse but to shut off the handset.

The BBC report cited a spokesperson at British wireless provider O2, who reported that a patch would be pushed out to users through Apple's iTunes, the application iPhone owners use to get new data on the device.

"We will be communicating to customers both through the website and proactively," the spokesperson said. "We always recommend our customers update their iPhone with the latest software and this is no different."

Arrington out

Though troubling news for the global iPhone userbase (a friend frantically IMed this writer: "Did you get the message to turn off your iPhone?" Thursday), the vulnerability apparently wasn't the straw that broke the back of Michael Arrington, the editor of the venerable TechCrunch. His early Friday morning post "I quit the iPhone" became a top trending Twitter topic (say that five times fast) in and of itself.

In the post, Arrington lists the usual iPhone gripes – dropped calls, spotty AT&T coverage, lack of a physical keyboard – but says that what pushed him to abandon his iPhone was Apple's handling of the Google Voice debacle.

For the unfamiliar, Google Voice is call management service that transcribes voicemails and lets users screen calls, manage which callers get through to different phones, and, makes "one number for the rest of your life" a real possibility. Apple's app store rejected – without explanation – an application that would've brought improved Google Voice functionality to the iPhone.
Why the rejection? As Arrington puts it, "they absolutely don't want people doing exactly what I'm doing - moving their phone number to Google and using the carrier as a dumb pipe."

Will Arrington's exit – and the defection of other high-profile users over similar issues – prompt Apple and AT&T change their tune?


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