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Lawsuit Claims Apple Forced Users To iOS 7 By Breaking FaceTime (appleinsider.com) 90

According to Apple Insider, a class-action lawsuit has been filed in California that claims Apple broke FaceTime in iOS 6 to force users to upgrade to iOS 7. The lawsuit says Apple forced users to upgrade so it could avoid payments on a data deal with Akamai. From the report: When FaceTime launched in 2010, Apple included two methods of connecting one iPhone to another. The first, a peer-to-peer technology, transferred audio and video data over a direct connection, while a second "relay method" used third-party servers run by Akamai to shuttle data back and forth. Initially, calls routed through Akamai's relay servers only accounted for only 5 to 10 percent of FaceTime traffic, but usage quickly spiked. On Nov. 7, 2012, a jury found Apple's peer-to-peer FaceTime call technology in infringement of patents owned by VirnetX. Along with a $368 million fine, the ruling meant Apple would have to shift away from peer-to-peer to avoid further infringement. Apple began to incur multi-million dollar monthly charges from Akamai as a result of the change. Testimony from the 2016 VirnetX retrial pegged relay fees at about $50 million between April 2013 and September 2013, rates that according to today's lawsuit were of concern to Apple executives. After eating rising relay service charges for nearly a year, Apple saw a chance to slow down or completely negate the fees in iOS 7. Among other system improvements, the next-generation OS included a method of creating peer-to-peer FaceTime connections without infringing on VirnetX patents. The only problem, according to the lawsuit, was that users continued to operate devices running iOS 6. Citing internal emails and sworn testimony from the VirnetX trial, the lawsuit alleges Apple devised a plan to "break" FaceTime on iOS 6 or earlier by causing a vital digital certificate to prematurely expire. Apple supposedly implemented the "FaceTime Break" on April 16, 2014, then blamed the sudden incompatibility on a bug, the lawsuit claims.
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Lawsuit Claims Apple Forced Users To iOS 7 By Breaking FaceTime

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  • But don't worry... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2017 @10:14PM (#53800307)

    Apple would never do anything to force you to upgrade your iOS version, right?

    They just pull shit like this as often as they can. My new favourite one is them forcing iOS 9 on iPhone 4S users when they need a new battery- if you take the device into the service centre, you're getting upgraded whether you want it or not. Enjoy your new slow ass phone with a replaced battery.

    When people say "Apple doesn't force you to upgrade", it's pure bullshit. Sooner or later they'll fuck you somehow. Either with their complete and utter lack of backwards compatibility (just wait until 64-bit iOS builds become mandatory and they flush all the 32-bit arm compilers down the drain), or at the service centre, or with shenanigans like this.

    Remember folks, Apple isn't in the business of making hardware worth upgrading to. They're in the business of planned obsolescence. That's how they keep the ball rolling these days.

    • The removal of compilers thing really pisses me off, actually. Probably the leading cause of Linux being installed on old Macbooks.

    • by jcr ( 53032 )

      They just pull shit like this as often as they can

      Yeah, how dare they force people to upgrade their OS at no charge, the greedy bastards!

      Oh, wait...

      -jcr

      • And by "At no charge," you mean "At a charge which was already factored into the purchase price." You paid for your free upgrades when you bought your phone, and people's concern here is for Apple intentionally making older devices unusable with a forced OS update, thereby also forcing a new phone purchase which includes the cost of another round of phone updates. Rinse, repeat until the user finally wises up and stops buying Apple crap. Sadly, most never do so.
        • And by "At no charge," you mean "At a charge which was already factored into the purchase price." You paid for your free upgrades when you bought your phone, and people's concern here is for Apple intentionally making older devices unusable with a forced OS update, thereby also forcing a new phone purchase which includes the cost of another round of phone updates. Rinse, repeat until the user finally wises up and stops buying Apple crap. Sadly, most never do so.

          Really?

          Then Samsung must REALLY be gouging; since the GN7 was actually MORE EXPENSIVE than an iPhone 7 Plus, and that's with essentially NO Upgrades, and with the Purchase Price theoretically subsidized in part by Carrier Bloatware deals, right?

  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Friday February 03, 2017 @10:14PM (#53800309) Homepage

    All devices capable of FaceTime supported iOS 7. Apple didn't leave any devices behind when they did this.

    Not only that, but a company cannot be expected to support unnecessary legacy infrastructure forever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No but to break it artificially is a different story

    • by Anonymous Coward

      All devices capable of FaceTime supported iOS 7. Apple didn't leave any devices behind when they did this.

      Not only that, but a company cannot be expected to support unnecessary legacy infrastructure forever.

      Not quite, there was an iOS 6.1.6 update for the 4th generation iPod touch that fixes FaceTime for the device, which cannot run iOS 7.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      "a company cannot be expected to support unnecessary legacy infrastructure forever."

      It all depends on what promises they made in their marketing.

      (And those "I agree" things you have to agree to in order to have a functional device? They're unconscionable contracts of adhesion.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by windwalkr ( 883202 )

      All devices capable of FaceTime supported iOS 7.

      That really depends on your definition of "support". Apple has an unfortunate habit of releasing an operating system update that technically supports older devices, but in practice brings them to their knees- operations which previously were quite snappy become unbearably sluggish, or cause the device to crash. Obviously it's great that they offer the option for those who need to upgrade for App compatibility or some other reason, but for everybody else it just feels like a forced (in the sense that the old

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by zieroh ( 307208 )

        Apple has an unfortunate habit of releasing an operating system update that technically supports older devices, but in practice brings them to their knees- operations which previously were quite snappy become unbearably sluggish, or cause the device to crash.

        This is hardly unique to Apple. In fact, I'd say this is endemic to software, period.

        I blame the punk-ass programmers being churned out of universities that rely on Java as a primary teaching language. Though I'll admit there are other reasons, too.

        • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

          What is unique to apple is refusing to allow the OS version to be downgraded to one with acceptable performance.

      • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
        that shouldn't be illegal, the free market can correct it because people get fed up and switch systems. when apple turns their iphone to shit, buy an android next time.
    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      What? No off hand I know of the ipod touch 4th generation supported facetime but it doesn't go past iOS 6.1.6

      There may even be others IDK.

    • Perhaps you should read the summary before writing bullshit like this.

  • so they are sore at apple, for what??? being apple? when you buy apple products you better know that you are at their mercy. it is the entire point of an apple product.
    • by whit3 ( 318913 )

      so they are sore at apple, for what??? being apple? when you buy apple products you better know that you are at their mercy.

      No, they're sore at Apple for being... Sony. When the PS3 got 'updates' that disabled OtherOS (Linux,, usually) , the malfeasance was just TOO much, and owners sued. They won. Apple isn't entirely in charge. There's law on the subject, so courts will decide. That's what courts are for.

      • There's a big difference between the two cases. Sony released an update that removed core features. Apple released an update that preserved the features, but removed the server part of support for the old version. No one complains if a company updates a protocol and pushes an update to the client, the complaint here is that they pushed a new client version and tied it to the new OS version, which they presumably did to reduce development costs (using the new APIs from the new OS and not having to maintai
        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Apple released an update that preserved the features [...] the complaint here is that they pushed a new client version and tied it to the new OS version

          On affected devices, the new OS version did not preserve the multitasking feature. Instead, switching to a different application causes iOS to have to OOM-kill the other application, making it take far longer to switch between the two.

          Source: replies to jcr's comment [slashdot.org]

  • Precedent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thecombatwombat ( 571826 ) on Friday February 03, 2017 @10:47PM (#53800419)

    If these people (somehow) win, the precedent could be insane.

    Game consoles do this all the time. You update or lose access to all online services, period. If this lawsuit wins, Sony and Microsoft could both be on the hook in a big way. I'm sure many other devices are similar.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Not quite the same imho as the very plainly states update available you will not be able to sign into box game live until you update.

      Not something vague like error connecting.

      Plus if you could find a way to bypass the update check it would probably work.

      Tho no one really seems to give a crap about the consoles anymore.

      • I play my PS3 infrequently. So often when I want to spend 15min playing a game it wants to force me to do half an hour of updates first. I get around this by disconnecting it from the internet - FTW!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Game consoles do this all the time.

      Game consoles do not pretend that the update is optional and they also don't blame a bug when they break something for the old version. Apple on the other hand likes to lie to its customers whenever it does something that could have negative consequences for its public image.

    • If these people (somehow) win, the precedent could be insane.

      Game consoles do this all the time. You update or lose access to all online services, period. If this lawsuit wins, Sony and Microsoft could both be on the hook in a big way. I'm sure many other devices are similar.

      So you are saying that just for once Apple was not being evil? A lot of people here are going to have issues with that, to them it's like claiming that liquid water isn't wet.

    • And it has all kinds of weird side effects.

      For example, right now, if an OS update breaks an application, the onus is almost always on the application to update itself to work on the new platform (or throw in the towel).

      However, if the law is changed such that upgrading an OS cannot remove functionality, what happens when, for example, Windows 11 arrives and Steam doesn't work on it, and Steam decides, "Well we're not fixing our app, and we're not going to work with you on a workaround, so... good luck gett

      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        The law can't be changed such that OS updates can't remove functionality for the reason you mention. Its an unreasonable burden on OS creators. What might be the case is better disclosure of included services (i.e. an explicit declaration that Apple has the right to remove server support for features from legacy OSes, along with a note that OS upgrades can cause performance declines)...

    • Sod game consoles, what about Windows 10? Forced upgrqades, no way to downgrade, and upgrades breaking random stuff. Sounds like we'd have a case.
    • Game consoles do this all the time. You update or lose access to all online services, period.

      For one thing, game consoles tend to be more usable offline than smartphones and tablets running a smartphone-derived operating system are. They can play disc games in single-player or same-screen multiplayer, and they can play games downloaded from the store to your console in single-player or same-screen multiplayer. For another, updates to a game console's operating system tend not to dramatically expand its RAM footprint to the point where basic operations take seconds instead of tenths of seconds, with

  • by ezdiy ( 2717051 ) on Friday February 03, 2017 @10:57PM (#53800447)
    http://www.google.com/patents/... [google.com] is the patent supposedly infringed, and https://search.rpxcorp.com/lit... [rpxcorp.com] is the court litigation.

    Basically, both Microsoft and Apple got hit by a patent troll, hard. It sounds like random gibberish of somebody vaguely trying to implement p2p relaying similiar to Tor (and from the looks of it, naively broken and not-anonymous too). With a lot of odd features on top of it which do not make much sense from engineering perspective as well. Possibly put in there just to make the patent as broad as possible. It's basically impossible to explain how this is related to any p2p system, much less facetime, what is clear that the patent is some sort of p2p (among dozens of other things).

    It's worth noting it is explicitly linked to TARP - https://betanews.com/2010/03/1... [betanews.com]

    Now, the fun part is that both patents describe routing header encryption, possibly with onion layers (its hard to tell from the gibberish), for both of which there is ton of prior art (onion was patented by darpa in 1998 in fact).
  • It would be great if they win. There is all too much of this dumping older hardware and software when it is not necessary. The programmers should offer graceful fall backs in their programming. It is good programming practices. Companies should support the legacy hardware and software for many decades. That is part of the commitment they should be making when releasing products.

  • Damn, $50 million for filing some vague patent and not creating or innovating anything. How is this legal again? Oh yeah, the big companies use the patent system to keep out all small competition, so it's not going away any time soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm the last person on earth to upgrade my iPhone since I fear each new release more. I actually am utterly unable to navigate the music app since the introduction of Apple Music since it seems it's only goal is to sell you something all the time. I would kill for a version of iOS where I could disable the Apple Music like "If you're not a subscriber, we'll let you just see the music you actually purchased instead".

    The primary question I have is what the grounds for the lawsuit are?

    Were any users harmed in

  • If you pay for an overpriced pocket computer loaded with proprietary everything, you should fully expect the abuse that is headed your way because you went in knowing it was proprietary. Whenever you invest in proprietary technology, you willing ensnare yourself on the leash of corporations. This has always been true but the advent of ubiquitous connectivity has made this leash yanking quite pronounced.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      How is it possible to make a mobile phone or mobile Internet terminal without "invest[ing] in proprietary technology"? UMTS, CDMA2000, and LTE are patented. Even Wi-Fi is patented.

      • I'm speaking more to well documented standards but you are correct that patents are a serious issue. The good news is that patents expire but closed software is almost never opened.

        • The problem with waiting out essential patents on cellular is that by the time they expire, carriers have retired service in the air protocol that they cover in favor of more capable protocols whose patents happen to subsist.

          • You make a very good case for why it's foolish to invest significant resources into a cell phone. That's kinda my point. If you must have it, get a basic cell phone that you can chuck and move on.

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              Without a device running Lyft, Uber, or a similar app, how is one supposed to book a ride to or from work at night, on Sundays, or on a major holiday? Public transit doesn't run then (source: fwcitilink.com).

  • by MavEtJu ( 241979 ) <slashdot@noSpAm.mavetju.org> on Saturday February 04, 2017 @04:51AM (#53801309) Homepage

    Currently the only way to update included apps when you purchase a new phone is via an iOS upgrade.

    As such this whole drama could be prevented by being able to upgrade a single included app via the AppStore instead of via an (i)OS upgrade.

    • The entire premise behind the iOS walled garden ecosystem is that Apple knows better than you what apps you should be using. This includes phasing out older versions of apps which Apple decides are no longer "suitable" for use. If you don't like it when their decision runs counter to yours, you need to be questioning the net benefit of living in a walled garden.

      Google at least lets you poke holes in their walls. If you don't like the limitations of the Play store, you can load another store, or side-l
  • I remember clearly that Podcasts were having problems as well. And several of us upgraded just to get that fixed.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    forgot to add, you need to buy a rediculous data recovery device if you want to retrieve data from the new macbook pro with the soldered on SSD.

    obviously this device is only available to apple authorised repair centers and prevents the end user from doing yet another thing...

    No target disk mode either.

    or imaging the machine from deploystudio, that will kill the retarded touch bar.

    Apple needs to be sued. bad. they are out of control with their bullshit, time for some punishment.

  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @01:37PM (#53807315)

    What I don't understand is why Apple even bothered with the deception. All they had to do is say that as a result of previous patent lawsuits, Facetime on ios 6 would be disabled as of yadda yadda date, and anyone who wanted to continue using the technology could move to IOS7.

    Then this whole mess wouldn't have even happened, no?

The solution of this problem is trivial and is left as an exercise for the reader.

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