The iPhone 3GS has been jailbroken, a process that opens the handset up to being loaded with apps that haven't been blessed by Apple. One of those applications can free the phone from ties to carriers.
The hack comes from George Hotz - aka GeoHot - one the guys in the iPhone Dev Team, which has been playing mouse to Apple's cat since the early days of the iPhone 2G. The team has been behind all the key iPhone 3G and iPod Touch jailbreaking and unlocking tools.
But is seems George became fed up with his fellows' insistence that 3GS jailbreaking tools remain unreleased until Apple posts the iPhone OS 3.1 update, expected in the near future.
"Normally, I don't make tools for the general public, and rather wait for the Dev Team to do it. But, guys, what's up with waiting until 3.1?" he wrote on his blog.
"That isn't how the game is played. We release, Apple fixes, we find new holes. It isn't worth waiting because you might have the "last" hole in the iPhone. What last hole... this isn't golf. I'll find a new one next week."
Describing his hack as "awesome", George tells 3GS owners to visit his website and download the jailbreak tool, purplera1n, which uses a tool called Freeze to break in and install the third-party app loader Cydia. It runs on Windows XP and Vista but not 7 and needs the latest version of iTunes.
With Cydia in place and the 3GS jailbroken you can run the iPhone Dev Team's ultrasn0w app to unlock the handset. In theory - some users who've tried it claim they've been successful. Proceed at your own risk. ®