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iPhone/iPod Touch Update Is Also a Bug Fix

Apple's highly anticipated release of iPhone/iPod Touch OS 3.0 today is a major upgrade for the popular smartphone and music player -- but it's also a pretty good-sized bug fix.

In a security bulletin released with the update, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) acknowledged 45 known vulnerabilities in previous editions of the software.

Because the iPhone and iPod Touch software is based on Mac OS X, the bugs had previously impacted earlier editions of the company's PC software -- but they had all been addressed on Mac OS X 10.5.

"Many of these vulnerabilities were discovered and reported in the desktop version of Mac OS X. Since Mac OS X and iPhone OS share much of the same code, they will also share any vulnerabilities discovered in that shared code," said Dino Dai Zovi, a Mac researcher and author in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

Zovi, author of the books "The Mac Hacker's Handbook" and the forthcoming "Cracking iPhone Security," added that threats to the iPhone's security are plausible, if not yet a full-fledged worry.

"Exploitation of security vulnerabilities on the iPhone has been publicly demonstrated by security researchers, but it has not to my knowledge been discovered in the wild," Zovi said.

Apple also took some hits when it came to delivering today's update to users. The rush to upgrade to iPhone/iPod Touch OS 3.0 resulted in overloaded, unreachable servers and a fair amount of bellyaching on social networks.

Apple will begin selling the iPhone 3G S on Friday, although most pre-ordered models are already reported to be sold out.

One bit of good news: Owners of the current iPhone 3G, who have had their phones for just one year, will get a break from AT&T, the sole carrier supporting the iPhone.

Initially, the wireless giant had said it would charge a premium for those customers looking to upgrade. New customers with a two-year contract would get a lower, subsidized cost, as would existing customers near end of their contracts.

But many existing users of the iPhone 3G wouldn't qualify for the lower cost under those rules. This had more than a few fans rather upset.

Now, just days before the launch, AT&T decided to make Friday's inevitable long lines outside its stores even longer by agreeing to change its tune. As a result of a change in its pricing policy, the carrier is enabling a larger number of current iPhone 3G customers to get a 3G S for the $199/$299 intro price for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively.