Thursday, 09 September 2010 08:39

iOS 4.1 arrives with new features and bug and security fixes


iOS 4.1 delivers a range of new features to the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as multiple security fixes.

iOS 4.1, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system has arrived, delivering changes that were foreshadowed in July's beta release or other announcements by the company.

Game Center (requires iPhone 3GS or later, iPod touch second generation or later) is Apple's entry into the social gaming arena. It helps find opponents and tracks achievements and high scores. Apps must be specifically written to take advantage of these capabilities.

In the light of last week's iTunes announcements, it should come as no surprise that iOS 4.1 supports Ping and iTunes TV show rentals.

For iPhone 4 owners, the new release also provides support for HDR photography (combining multiple exposures to give a better image) and HD video uploads to YouTube and MobileMe.

Bug fixes disclosed by Apple address the iPhone 4 proximity sensor performance, iPhone 3G performance, and Nike+iPod issues. Unspecified Bluetooth improvements have also been made.

What about security fixes? Please read on.

On the security side, iOS 4.1 addresses two dozen issues. The majority concern WebKit (which underlies the Safari browser), and involve the handling of scrollbars; form menus; HTML object outlines; selections; 'use', 'font-face', ':first-letter', 'first-line', 'foreignObject' and 'floating' elements in SVG documents; JavaScript arrays; CSS counters; inline elements; text nodes; fonts; and changes to element focus. All of these flaws can potentially be exploited by a malicious website or document to cause a crash or arbitrary code execution.

Other WebKit issues addressed in the update concern HTTP redirects (potential for information disclosure), keypress delivery to wrong frame when focus changes (potential to trigger an unexpected action, such as initiating a purchase), and a JavaScript flaw that allows a script to modify the contents of clipboard without user interaction.

Changes have also been made to ImageIO to protect against malicious GIF or TIFF images causing buffer overflows or other types of memory corruption leading to crashing or arbitrary code execution.

FaceTime, Apple's video calling application, has been updated to improve certificate handling issues that had the potential to allow an attacker in a privileged network position to redirect calls.

VoiceOver now announces the presence of the location services icon that appears next to an app that has requested the user's location within the last 24 hours.

The update must be installed via iTunes, and weighs in at nearly 600MB.

Apple has also updated the iPhone Configuration Utility for Mac OS X and Windows. Version 3.1 is recommended for managing devices running iOS 4.0 or later.



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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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