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iPhone 4The first iPhone operating system (iOS) 4.1 jailbreak has hit the streets. Hacker Geohot’s “Limera1n” exploit lets users hack their phones to install a variety of unofficial apps and tweaks.

The exploit currently supports the iPhone 4, iPhone 3G S, iPod Touch 3rd gen and 4th gen, and the iPad. It only works on official iOS releases at the moment, so don’t expect it to jailbreak any early beta software. Limera1n is Windows-only at the moment, but Geohot says that a Mac version is on the way. He stresses that the exploit is still a beta release, which means rough edges may get smoothed over with future releases.

We reported in September that the iPhone Dev Team, a rival hacker group, had come across an exploit for iOS 4.1 (dubbed “Shatter”) that targets a low-level portion of the OS, which makes it impossible for Apple to patch the exploit with a simple software upgrade. That means all existing iOS devices will be able to rely on their exploit forever, and Apple won’t be able to fix the security hole until it rolls out new hardware. But that group hasn’t released its exploit to the general public, making Geohot the first to make a jailbreak publicly available.

It’s unclear if Limera1n is taking advantage of the same security hole as the iPhone Dev Team, although Geohot says that his exploit is similarly “unpatchable” by Apple. (It can also technically jailbreak the Apple TV, like the iPhone Dev Team’s exploit.)  By releasing his exploit first, Geohot has thrown down the gauntlet to the iPhone hacking community — potentially forcing other groups to finalize their own exploits soon. The iPhone Dev team is currently recommending that users wait for its Shatter exploit to be released, Engadget reports.

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