New Firmware often adds new functionality and improvement to devices. Firmware is recorded on computer chips and therefor an integral part of the device. The best known firmware is probably the bios of a computer's motherboard.
Apple releases regular firmware updates for their devices, which often add new functionality and improvements like a better performance or battery life. Firmware updates may on the other hand invalidate jailbreaks or tools used to jailbreak devices. In rare circumstances, they remove features from a device.
Firmware downloads are usually offered on Apple's official support website. The site is a big mess to navigate, and the best option is to filter downloads by product to quickly find out if a new firmware is available.
A better solution is the free program IpswDownloader which is available for Windows and Macintosh computer systems. Ipsw is the file extension that Apple firmwares are provided in. The free tool offers firmware information and downloads for a variety of Apple devices. Supported devices include the iPhone 4G, iPad 1G and 2G or the Apple TV 2G.
Each supported device is selectable from a pulldown list in the application interface. Next to the device pulldown menu is a second menu that lists all available firmwares for the device.
Each Firmware is listed with its version and a code.
The main interface displays additional information about the selected firmware. This includes its total file size, which jailbreak tool is available to jailbreak it and whether it is possible to unlock it. The tools that are mentioned are not linked, which means that users who want to jailbreak their Apple device need to find the program on their own to do so. The device firmwares are large files, usually between 200 and 700 Megabytes in size.
The question that remains is this: Do you really need a tool to download the firmware? It simplifies the process greatly. You only need to run it to download the latest firmware, and provided that the developers maintain a list of available firmwares that is all you need to do.
The jailbreak information are handy for users who jailbreak their devices. Security conscious users on the other hand may prefer to download the files directly from an official Apple website instead.
IpswDownloader is available for Windows and Mac at the developer's website.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.