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Apple ships iOS 5.0.1 with battery fixes, patches

Gregg Keizer | Nov. 11, 2011
Apple today released iOS 5.0.1, the anticipated update designed to fix multiple unspecified bugs that drained the iPhone's battery much faster than expected.

iOS 5.0.1 can be grabbed without connecting an iPhone or iPad to a computer. Apple today released iOS 5.0.1, the anticipated update designed to fix multiple unspecified bugs that drained the iPhone's battery much faster than expected.

The update also patched five security vulnerabilities, including one revealed earlier this week by noted researcher Charlie Miller, who demonstrated that Apple's App Store code signing could be sidestepped to download malware onto an iPhone without the owner's knowledge.

iOS 5.0.1 was the first update that Apple delivered "over-the-air" -- in other words, without requiring users to connect their devices to a Windows PC or Mac, and launching iTunes -- a new feature that debuted with iOS 5 in October.

Apple did not spell out the specific battery-related patches, saying only "Fixes bugs affecting battery life" in a short list of the update's contents.

Almost immediately after the launch of the iPhone 4S, owners began reporting that the phone was exhausting its battery at a prodigious rate, with some claiming that their batteries were losing 1% of their power every few minutes.

While some users Thursday morning said that they had already downloaded iOS 5.0.1, it was too early for results reports to appear on Apple's support forum.

Other fixes included in iOS 5.0.1 claimed to resolve bugs with documents stored and synced using iCloud, improved voice dictation accuracy for Australian users, and added multitasking gestures to 2010's first-generation iPad.

On the security front, Apple patched five vulnerabilities and also revoked the digital certificates of a Malaysian certificate authority (CA). Microsoft and Mozilla had done the same last week for their Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers.

The most notable patch was for the bug discovered earlier this year by Miller, principal research consultant for Denver-based security firm Accuvant and the only four-time winner at the annual Pwn2Own hacking contest.

That bug let Miller craft an iOS app, which Apple approved and distributed via its App Store. Miller's app, however, exploited the flaw to force the app to "phone home" to a server he controlled, which then could issue commands to any hijacked iPhone running iOS 4.3 or later.

Miller informed Apple of the bug in October, but did not tell the company he had created an app to demonstrate the flaw. Apple's reaction was swift: It bounced Miller from the iOS developer program and banned him from reapplying for a full year.

Although Miller was unable to test the patch in iOS 5.0.1 because his app had been yanked from the App Store, he pointed out the appearance of the update, and as he had done earlier this week, defended his research.

 

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