Third-party applications for the iPhone won't be released until early next year, but there's an easy-to-install new jailbreaking application out this week if you can't wait.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog, source of much of the details behind The Great iPhone Hack 2007, brings news of the release of the AppSnapp installer, which bypasses Apple's OS X 1.1.1 update in order to let iPhone and iPod Touch users put third-party applications on their devices. This appears to be one of the simplest jailbreak applications yet released for the 1.1.1 update; the others involved lots of complicated steps or additional scripts to open up the iPhone.
The iPhone hacking saga lost a little steam last month when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that the company would release a software developer's kit for the iPhone in February of next year. Uncertainty around Apple's plans for third-party applications on the iPhone spurred numerous projects to open up the iPhone, which also allows iPhone users to unlock their phones from AT&T's network.
In fact, the AppSnapp folks claim their software activates iPhones that have another carrier's SIM card installed. Last week, Apple estimated that 250,000 iPhones were purchased with the intention of unlocking them from AT&T's network. The company struck back in early September with the 1.1.1 update, and was able to make unlocking really difficult as well as deter future unlocking attempts by "bricking" unlocked iPhones that installed the software update.
With four months between now and the expected release of the SDK, it's very likely that Apple will have at least one more software update for the iPhone that could very well wipe out these jailbreaking efforts, and perhaps once again brick the phones. If you go ahead and install AppSnapp, understand that you probably won't be able to get service for your iPhone if you walk into the store with AppSnapp installed and a problem for the Geniuses. You might be able to do a factory restore to get AppSnapp off the phone and just install it after you're done with the service, but be forewarned.