Apple accused of breaking FaceTime to force iOS 7 upgrades

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facetime
Some users say that iOS 7 made their iPhones run slowly.
Photo: Apple

A class-action lawsuit claims that Apple intentionally broke its FaceTime service on iOS 6 in order to get users to upgrade to iOS 7 — thereby making older iPhones run slowly.

The reason was allegedly driven by Apple’s desire not to have to continue paying high data costs to the company Akamai, which ran third-party servers used for handling FaceTime data.

When FaceTime first launched back in 2010, it relied on both Akamai’s “relay method” for moving data and Apple’s own peer-to-peer technology, which transferred the necessary audio and video information using a direct connection.

At first, Akamai accounted for just 5-10 percent of FaceTime traffic, although this number rapidly increased. In 2012, a jury ruled that Apple’s peer-to-peer technology infringed on patents held by another company, VirnetX. In addition to paying a hefty $368 million fine, Apple also had to stop using the peer-to-peer tech, which meant relying more on Akamai.

After around one year of this deal continuing, Apple used iOS 7 to cut down on the fees by creating a new peer-to-peer FaceTime method which didn’t infringe on VirnetX patents. However, from April 16, 2014 onwards, Apple allowed a crucial digital certificate to expire on iOS 6 — meaning that FaceTime would no longer work for those users.

According to the complaint, this was a purposeful attempt on Apple’s part to cut down on paying increasing Akamai fees. In one email reportedly from an Apple engineering manager to another Apple engineer the following conversation took place:

Q) “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.”
A) “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.”

This alleged reasoning was never made public. The class action lawsuit was filed this week in a California court, with the claimants seeking undisclosed damages.

Via: Apple Insider