updated 06:20 pm EDT, Wed July 14, 2010
iPhone developers get iOS 4.1 beta 1
Apple tonight posted its first beta of iOS 4.1 at the iPhone Developer Center. Beta 1 and a matching SDK provide the promised reception accuracy fix and also alters the signal bars to appear taller in an attempt to give a weaker signal more value. Early reports also suggest Apple has changed the baseband modem's firmware to a newer version, though this is likely to reflect the signal reporting.
A handful of tests so far hint that the firmware does nothing to address the iPhone 4's reception problem. The sudden, steep drops on the device are caused by bridging antennas when making contact with the antenna gaps on the outside of the phone, especially in the bottom left corner and when the local signal strength is weak. Apple has never publicly acknowledged a design issue but has been asked by Consumer Reports and other critics to either offer free bumper cases, which normally solve the issue, or to go so far as order a recall and ship a version that somehow addresses the problem in the phone itself.
Other updates in 4.1 haven't been identified, but the GameCenter beta remains in this build. Apple has only said the finished, public version of iOS 4.1 would be available sometime within the next few weeks.