Apple has been hit with a class action lawsuit in California. This one alleges that the company purposely broke FaceTime on iOS 6 to force users to upgrade to iOS 7 to regain functionality. The move, according to the lawsuit, was done to avoid paying high data costs to Akamai.
The suit states that Apple forced customers to upgrade to iOS 7 which made older devices such as the iPhone 4 and 4s unusable.
AppleInsider reports that most of this information is coming from a previous court battle between Apple and patent troll Virnetx.
When FaceTime launched in 2010, Apple used two technologies that allowed two iPhones to connect. The first used a peer-to-peer standard to directly transfer audio and video between two devices. The other used a “relay method,” which relied on third-party servers from Akamai to transfer data between two iPhones.
In 2012, Apple was found guilty of violating patents from Virnetx with its peer-to-peer tech, meaning Apple had to completely rely on Akamai’s servers for FaceTime.
With iOS 7, Apple found a method that wouldn’t rely on third-party servers but would also not infringe on Virnetx’s patents. But, some users still used iOS 6 at the time, which meant Apple was incurring high data charges.
Therefore, Apple realized it could force customers to upgrade by causing an important digital certificate to expire earlier. After making that move, Apple blamed a software bug that caused FaceTime to no longer work on the firmware. The company, of course, “fixed” this bug in iOS 7.
If you started to have issues making or receiving FaceTime calls after April 16, 2014, your device or your friend’s device may have encountered a bug resulting from a device certificate that expired on that date. Updating both devices to the latest software will resolve this issue.
The lawsuit also includes an email between to engineers regarding the expired certificate.
“Hey, guys. I’m looking at the Akamai contract for next year. I understand we did something in April around iOS 6 to reduce relay utilization,” an Apple engineer manager stated.
Another engineer replied, “It was a big user of relay bandwidth. We broke iOS 6, and the only way to get FaceTime working again is to upgrade to iOS 7.”
While breaking one application such as FaceTime doesn’t brick a device, the suit claims that iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s owners had their devices rendered useless when upgrading to iOS 7.
For iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users, for example, the coerced move to iOS 7 subjected their devices to slowness, system crashes, erratic behavior and/or the elimination of their ability to use critical functions on their phone.
As succinctly stated in one of the media reports that discussed these widespread functionality problems, “the older handsets buckle under the weight of the new software.” Thus, for millions of Apple’s customers, a move to iOS 7 would significantly harm the functionality of their device.