New firmware often adds new features and improvements to devices. Firmware is recorded on computer chips and is therefore an integral part of the device. The best known firmware is probably the BIOS on a computer’s motherboard.
Apple releases regular firmware updates for its devices, often adding new features and improvements, such as better performance or battery life. Firmware updates can, on the other hand, invalidate jailbreaks or the tools used to jailbreak devices. On rare occasions, they remove features from a device.
Firmware downloads are usually offered on the official Apple support website. The site is a big mess to navigate, and the best option is to filter the downloads by product to quickly find out if a new firmware is available.
A better solution is the free IpswDownloader program which is available for both Windows and Macintosh computer systems. Ipsw is the file extension in which Apple firmwares are provided. The free tool offers firmware information and downloads for a variety of Apple devices. Compatible devices include iPhone 4G, iPad 1G and 2G, or Apple TV 2G.
Each supported device can be selected from a dropdown list on the app interface. Next to the device dropdown menu is a second menu that lists all available firmware 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 the total size of the file, what jailbreak tool is available to unlock it, and whether it can be unlocked. The tools mentioned are not linked, which means that users who want to jailbreak their Apple device need to find the program by themselves to do so. Device firmwares are large files, typically between 200 and 700 megabytes in size.
The question that remains is this: Do you really need a tool to download the firmware? It greatly simplifies the process. You just need to run it to download the latest firmware, and as long as the developers maintain a list of available firmwares that’s all you need to do.
Jailbreak information is useful for users jailbreaking their devices. Security-conscious users, on the other hand, may prefer to download the files directly from an official Apple website.
IpswDownloader is available for Windows and Mac from the developer’s website.