updated 04:40 pm EDT, Tue October 4, 2011
AppleCare+ covers two iPhone accidents
Apple is now seeding a Gold Master release of iOS 5 to developers. The code is effectively the finished version of the firmware, but should give developers a headstart on testing app compatibility. It also gives Apple a chance to fix any show-stopping bugs that might have survived earlier testing, however unlikely. The public release of iOS 5 is scheduled for October 12th.
In the meantime the company has quietly uncovered AppleCare+, a new service plan for iPhones. While a standard iPhone warranty includes a year of repair coverage and 90 days of technical support, AppleCare+ extends both repairs and tech support up to two years. On top of this the plan covers two incidents of accidental damage, although for each a person must still pay a $49 service fee.
Free repairs from Apple are limited to defects. AppleCare+ costs $99, and must be bought at the same time as new hardware. Because the plan is only launching on October 14th, most of the devices covered are likely to be iPhone 4S models, even if new 4 and 3GS purchases will likewise be eligible.