Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Turn your iPhone or iTouch into a 3G mobile Hacking secret

Watch and Learn the hacking of an iPhone to a 3G mobile

“At the moment, as a consumer, you need to be very careful about unlocking the iPhone, and know how you want to use it,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi, who attended the presentation. “If you unlock it, you are not going to have a flat rate, and you will not have access to the 7,500 hot spots.”

It’s a little tricky and involves hacking your Windows Mobile phone, but the gist of it is that by sharing the phone’s 3G connection over Wi-Fi with your iPhone (or iPod Touch), you basically bypass the clunky EDGE connection and have 3G speeds for browsing wherever. Your old phone needs to be nearby, of course. I have a similar hack going with a 3G phone and a Bluetooth PAN, which I just keep hidden in my laptop bag, but this seems like a more compatible solution.

It’s true: after the 1.1.1 update to the iPhone, I thought things would never again be the same when it came to installing third-party applications. But I should never have doubted my own sage words of advice. If anything, the latest method of installing third-party applications is even easier than the prior AppTapp method: you don’t even have to connect the iPhone to your computer.

Before installing, it’s recommended you get on a Wi-Fi network and set your phone’s auto-lock to “never” (under Settings -> General -> Auto Lock). Then just point Safari towards Read the information, and then head down to the bottom where it says “Install AppSnapp.” Clicking that link will cause Safari to quit and return you to the home screen—but don’t touch anything yet. After a minute or so, the iPhone will return you to the “Slide to unlock” screen. And then you’re all set: on your Home screen you’ll find the icon for the new (which, incidentally, is a lot slicker-looking than even the earlier versions).

Now, here’s the scary part. This hack relies on a vulnerability in Safari’s handling of TIFF files, meaning that essentially it’s giving arbitrary code on the web access to your entire phone. If that worries you, don’t install this hack. The good news, however, is that if you install the hack, it will supposedly patch that vulnerability. So there you go! Me, I’m just psyched to have third-party apps back.

Watch and Learn the hacking of an iPhone to a 3G mobile

Step-by-Step Guide

So here is the step-by-step guide on how to turn your iPod Touch (and iPhone) into a 3.5G iPhone! This is suitable for beginners as it involves no hacking at all of the iPod, and only a simple registry edit on the Windows phone.

What You Need

1) An iPod Touch or an iPhone.

2) A Phone/PDA with Windows Mobile 5 or 6.

I tested this on a HTC Ameo/Athena with WM6 but it should also work on any other touchscreen WM5 or 6. I've read that it will probably not work on the non-touchscreen Pocket PC versions. Your best bet is probably the O2 XDA Mini S which goes on eBay for around £150-200 new or £90-100 used. You can get it free from O2 if you really want a contract. It's otherwise known as the HTC Wizard. Anything from the HTC range of PDA phones should be fine.

3) A SIM card. These can be bought for 99p from almost anywhere now.

4) Download and install the free PHM Registry Editor onto the Windows phone. You can get it from

Hey, don't panic! I'm not going to ask you to actually use Wince ;-) At least not once you've done the initial setup. The Windows phone just acts as a mobile access point that can stay hidden in your pocket or bag.

The Procedure

This should only take about 10-15 minutes. If you have any problems at all, feel free to ask other users in my forum.

1) Setup the Windows phone as follows:

a) Go to settings/connections/wifi
b) Select the network adaptors tab, and select your Wifi card (should be obviously named)
c) Manualy set an IP address, lets use Then click in netmask and let it auto-fill with
d) Go back to the Wireless tab, and select NEW network (make sure the option to show both fixed and adhoc networks is selected).
e) Name the network whatever you want. I called it 'iPod'. Then tick 'This is a device-to-device (adhoc)' option. Hit 'Next'
f) Turn off data encryption. You CAN use it, but it makes things more complex, and only 1 device can connect to this network anyway so nobody else will be able to use it.
g) Hit next and finish. You should see the network name appear with 'Connecting'. It will sit there untill you finish the client side before it says connected.

2) Configure the Internet connection sharing,

a) Run Internet sharing on your device, select 'Bluetooh PAN' and check the box below shows your GPRS data connection.
b) Open PHM Registry Editor and go to 'HKLM\Comm\ConnectionSharing\PrivateInterface=BTPAN1'
c) Change 'PrivateInterface=BTPAN1' to 'TIACXWLN1', Ok and save this. Exit the registry editor.

3) Configure the WiFi settings on your iPod/iPhone (these instructions are for iPod Touch. Presumably iPhone is the same or very similiar. Just let me know in the forum how you get on!)

a) From the home page tap 'Settings' then 'Wifi' then 'Turn on WiFi'.
b) Select your new 'iPod' network from the list. Wait a few seconds. It should connect.
c) Press the 'Home' button and open Safari. Go to a webpage. It should connect with no trouble. I occasionally got the message, 'Cannot connect to iPod'. Turning it off and on (rebooting) should fix this. If not, reboot the Windows phone also and start from scratch.

And that's it! You've ended up with an iPhone that is 3G, is slimmer and lighter, and cost about 10 times less than an actual iPhone! Have fun with this and do feedback in the forum with any suggestions or further ideas.

Limitations and Followup Ideas

Ok, the first thing you might say is 'So how do I make voice calls on it? Well, if you're really sad enough to want to do that, then clearly you can't with an iPod touch because it doesn't have a microphone. I suggest you just take a normal phone out of your pocket and use that instead, as it's much more sensible for voice calls. You could even use the Windows phone in your other pocket if you don't mind looking like a complete dork holding a PDA to your head.

The iPhone could conceivably make VOIP calls this way, over a 3G network. I will let you know if anyone tried this with success!

I have tried MSN Messenger using the great web based messenger service, Meebo. It also allows you to use Aim, Yahoo and Google Talk, although I haven't tested those.