A judge has ruled that a lawsuit against Apple for breaking FaceTime in iOS 6 can continue.
It is alleged that the iPhone-maker purposely allowed the feature to be disabled on older devices in an effort to force users to update to iOS 7.
Introduced with iOS 4 in 2010, FaceTime made video calling easier than ever for iPhone owners. Like iMessage, it has since become a staple of Apple’s mobile operating system, with some users choosing to buy an iPhone over its Android-powered rivals specifically to enjoy FaceTime calls.
It’s so important to some, in fact, that Apple was sued earlier this year for breaking the feature on iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. Now U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has ruled that the lawsuit can go ahead.
The whole debacle stems from Apple’s decision to ditch third-party servers. The company was previously using servers owned by Akamai Technologies for FaceTime calls, and it was costing millions of dollars per month. It switched to using its own servers instead — for most calls, at least — with iOS 7.
Apple then allowed a security certificate to lapse, which broke FaceTime on devices running iOS 6. Some users felt this was a calculated move designed to push them into upgrading to iOS 7.
No right to FaceTime?
Apple argued that iPhone users “have no right to uninterrupted, continuous, or error-free” FaceTime, and that losing the feature brought no economic loss because it was free. However, Judge Koh believes that “FaceTime is a ‘feature’ of the iPhone and thus a component of the iPhone’s cost.”
“Indeed, Apple advertised FaceTime as ‘one more thing that makes an iPhone an iPhone.'”
The plaintiffs are seeking loss and punitive damages, the sum of which will be determined at trial.