Lawsuit Alleges Apple Broke FaceTime on iOS 6 to Force iOS 7 Upgrades, Save Money

Christina Grace of California has filed a new class-action lawsuit that alleges Apple broke FaceTime in iOS 6 to force users to upgrade to iOS 7, reports AppleInsider. According to the lawsuit, Apple forced users to upgrade so it could avoid payments on a data deal with Akamai.

The class action found its genesis in internal Apple documents and emails disclosed in the VirnetX patent infringement lawsuit, which eventually ended in Apple paying $302 million after a retrial. Apple used two connection methods when launching FaceTime in 2010: a peer-to-peer method that created a direct connection between two iPhones and a relay method that used data servers from Akamai.

When Apple's peer-to-peer FaceTime technology was found to infringe on VirnetX's patents in 2012, Apple began to shift toward Akamai's servers to handle iPhone-to-iPhone connections. A year later, Apple was paying $50 million in fees to Akamai, according to testimony from the VirnetX trial. The class-action lawsuit, pointing to an internal email titled "Ways to Reduce Relay Usage," alleges that the growing fees were beginning to bother Apple executives.

Apple eventually solved the problem by creating new peer-to-peer technology that would debut in iOS 7. The class-action lawsuit, however, alleges that Apple created a fake bug that caused a digital certificate to prematurely expire on April 16, 2014, breaking FaceTime on iOS 6. Breaking FaceTime on iOS 6, the lawsuit claims, would allow Apple to save money on users who did not upgrade to iOS 7.

At the time, Apple recognized the bug, publishing a support document saying that users who were having FaceTime connectivity problems after April 16, 2014 could update to the latest software to fix the issue. The same support document eventually removed the date "April 16, 2014," according to AppleInsider.

The lawsuit later points to an internal Apple email chain in which an engineering manager mentions that they were looking at the Akamai contract for the upcoming year and understood that Apple "did something" to reduce usage of Akamai's services. Another engineer responded by pointing out iOS 6 leaned a lot on Akamai's services and that Apple "broke iOS 6" and the only way to fix FaceTime was to upgrade to iOS 7.

Apple's developer page pegged iOS 7 adoption at 87 percent on April 7, 2014, nearly 10 days before Apple allegedly broke iOS 6. The lawsuit claims that forcing iPhone 4s and 4 users to upgrade to iOS 7 was harmful to them because the software would allegedly crash more and run more slowly.

The lawsuit is seeking undisclosed damages and to prove Apple violated California's unfair competition law.

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39 months ago

So what is the problem here? Apple doesn't charge for upgrades. They also stop supporting older software.

They (allegedly) crippled software that was working fine to force people to upgrade. You don't see anything wrong with that?

There are any number of reasons someone might not want to upgrade to the next OS, including the fact that older hardware tends to run newer software more slowly, as mentioned in the OP.

Would it be okay if they intentionally put in a bug to prevent WiFi from working unless you upgraded? To prevent voicemail from working properly?
Rating: 66 Votes
39 months ago
I'd rather just seek damages for the abomination that is all post iOS 6 software
Rating: 48 Votes
39 months ago
iOS 6! Don't care for the rest of the article I'm just glad I seen iOS 6 mentioned. And just better to look at (and function). Memories...
Rating: 24 Votes
39 months ago
yes, Apple made billions selling ios7...O wait, iOS upgrades are free.
We all pay the price for these frivolous must end.
Rating: 24 Votes
39 months ago
So what is the problem here? Apple doesn't charge for upgrades. They also stop supporting older software.
Rating: 22 Votes
39 months ago
Absolutely pathetic - penny pinching taking way too to far. Doesn't surprise me though.
Rating: 21 Votes
39 months ago

Oh, I meant, why didn't Apple just do that? Or is it baked into the software in such a way that an entire point update would have been needed? I'm not familiar enough with how exactly certificates work for this kind of thing.

Apple didn't want people to upgrade their certificate nor did they want the certificate to auto upgrade. If I'm understanding what I read correctly, they intentionally set the certificate to expire. They created a bug to accomplish that. But their solution to the bug was to suggest an iOS upgrade. Because correct me if I'm wrong, but FaceTime is tied to the OS and upgrades to the iOS are how FaceTime is itself upgraded.

Upgrading to iOS 7 in turn lets them slip in the new peer to peer connectivity that would free them from using Akamai and paying fees to Akamai.

So they broke a feature of FaceTime to push an upgrade to iOS 7 that lets them keep more money and give none to Akamai.

In the long run this is bad for consumers because the consumer can't stay on older versions of iOS that work better for older devices. Not if they wanted to use FaceTime in that particular instance.

So the consumer ends up possibly having to pay to upgrade hardware they might have otherwise held onto for another year. And even though iOS upgrades are free, the hardware sure isn't. I think this is the crux of the consumer complaint.

And Akamai might have their own bone to pick with Apple.

It's a bit shady.
Rating: 18 Votes
39 months ago

Ah yes, nostalgia is a powerful thing. I miss those faux glossy icons.

Do you miss this? :D

Rating: 15 Votes
39 months ago

As others have pointed out: the upgrade to iOS 7 was free. If Apple forced me to upgrade... who cares? The only people with a legitimate grievance might be the guys with EOL devices that couldn't be upgraded to iOS 7.

I do care if Apple forces me to update my device and the new software makes my device far worse off, which is precisely what iOS 7.0 did.

For the entire half of a year before 7.1 came out, iOS 7.0 was abysmally slow and buggy. 7.1 improved things but nowhere near to where 6 was.

I don't expect Apple to support the older OS much, but having completely irreversible updates can really burn people.

I did manage to get iOS 6 back on my 4S and the thing runs every bit as well as my iPhone 6 on iOS 9/10, and is even faster at navigating the OS.

I maintain that the iPhone 5 on iOS 6 is the fastest iPhone experience to date.
Rating: 15 Votes
39 months ago
Where do these idiots come from? Really?!
Rating: 12 Votes

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