An Apple employee (call him “Alpha”) who works in the iPhone Development Department has leaked some information to us recently, most of which will come as a surprise to many. The amount of shocking information leaked is beyond the grasp of an individual and shows how far Apple and AT&T will go to lock their users and steal their information while they have no clue about it.
Just to clarify, I will not disclose his name because he personally asked me not to since he didn’t wanted to end up like Gray Powell. The proofs are given down in this article to verify the credibility of this leak.
Editor’s Note [July 1st]: For the record, we were wrong about AT&T locking all US iPhone owners. Their OTA updates actually check the settings and make sure they are up-to-date. If the settings are not updated, the internet will be disabled. You can only regain access when you upgrade to the latest carrier update. Read more about it here.
We apologize for the error in our part, our source has apologized for it as well. We will be covering more leaks as they come out and will double check them before posting.
First off, we will divide the leaks into different topics in order of the communication that took place.
- With iOS 4, AT&T locks all US iPhone owners to their network via regular OTA updates.
- AT&T shipped some iPhone 4 early to verify their OTA update system.
- Apple stealing user information via FaceTime, which lacks encryption.
- Some Apple employees who are aware of this situation are not updating to iOS 4.
At&T Locking iOS 4 Users via regular ota updates
According to “Alpha”, in iOS 4 there is a line of code which they wrote that sends OTA (Over The Air) updates to the user every 7-14 days which detects and locks the system if it is not using AT&T network. Also AT&T and Apple have 6 months worth of OTA updates in their server which “Alpha” himself checked.
Another important tidbit is that when users call Apple Care Support, all information is displayed, including the jailbreak and baseband version. Also the Apple staff have been instructed to not help such users because they broke the contract rule. The full message, including how OTA will work, is below.
As far as Base Bands go it does not matter what baseband you TRY to get on the iPhone cause in the iOS4 there is a line of code we wrote that stands for OAU also known as “Over Air Updates”. How it works is every 7 to 14 days We (Apple) and AT&T send a message to your iPhone that gathers some data from your iPhone without you knowing and we see what is running, baseband and firmware. We then send a following message. “There are optional updates for your iPhone, Would you like to install them now?” two options “Yes” or “Later”. Those are what would would call “OPTIONAL UPDATES” Now there are things called “MANDATORY UPDATES”. They tend to work the same way, grab data from the iPhones sends it to AT&T and us then back to your iPhone with the message, “Your iPhone (name of iphone) must be updated to the current AT&T standards to run”, your only option is to “Accept” Now you can try to work your way around it until you get the second mandatory message again “You must plug iPhone into iTunes and update” If you don’t do this you will then receive no Signal from the network anymore and your iPhone will potentially lock up with no signs of use until you update your iPhone via iTunes. You all agreed to this terms and condition when you installed iTunes 9.2 and then again once you updated to iOS4.
With that being Said go ahead Try to unlock the iPhone it will only last 14 days max then you will have to break that update for that one week then again and again we currently have 6 months worth of updates for this iOS4. Apple and AT&T now have complete control over their iPhones and what their customers are putting on them without them knowing anything about it. Many of the people I work with don’t agree with this but even in our computers when people call in to Apple Care Support we can see if your iPhone is running a jailbreak and what baseband is currently on the iPhone. We have been instructed to not support any one with these things and possible void your warranty of the iPhone for Breaking a contract Rule.
Furthermore, he writes;
The reason why I am leaking some of this info is cause I don’t think its right that we are essentially controlling peoples iPhones.
Its their property once it leaves our retail stores and people need to know what they are getting into.
Later he shares a screenshot saying that this is only an optional update, the mandatory ones are nasty. This screenshot, according to him, was just pulled but is similar to the one in Apple’s database. On further research I found that Canadian users on Rogers network are already getting optional OTA updates.
Finally, I asked him what if users challenge my credibility, along with another important question regarding users who are living outside US. As for the first question, he replied that people just have to wait since it is a matter of time before they start getting AT&T OTA updates. While he had no clue about users living outside US since his department does not support them.
Update: Many users are confused how this works. Just to clarify, those who receive the updates will be safe while those who don’t get it, their phones will be locked.
What its doing (supposedly) is sending an update without which the phone would lock down, only affecting those on a different network that won’t get the signal.
The lack of the “update” is what does the damage. Not on the network, no update. Thus, your phone gets locked down.
Thanks to a Gizmodo commenter for clearing this up.
AT&T shipped some iPhone 4 early to verify their OTA update system
Most users who preordered iPhone 4 were happy to see their devices reaching early, little did they know that AT&T did it deliberately so that they can test their network update system. He also talks about why Apple held off the Canada release.
The chat took place at night when “Alpha” was pretty tired so you will see lots of typos in the above screenshot (which is normal when you are trying to type fast).
Apple stealing user information via FaceTime
FaceTime is the most celebrated feature of iPhone 4 but most users are clueless about what goes behind it. According to Alpha, “FaceTime is going be the biggest privacy break ever. It was the first thing that kinda set me on a rampage to leak info.”
So what is wrong with FaceTime? Alpha explains it while losing his patience.
I will let you off with one last bit of information if your gonna write a story on this and that is Facetime, the iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 Wifi video connecting. The issue is with Wifi is that anyone can get on a Wifi Signal and potentially see what the viewers and broadcasters are looking at without them know, now Apple will deny this and say its not our problem you where not on a secure connection, in my mind I think that its all bullshit.
People should be able to have some type of security during those calls. Worst yet is once a person connects to another person on FaceTime it for some reason non of us in the office can figure out, sends us APPLE a message and says those two people are connecting via Facetime and gives out their location to us. So for whatever reason we need that information just blows my mind. As a consumer why would you need to let Apple know that you are connecting with a person via FaceTime, its non of Apple’s business.
When I asked further about FaceTime, he replied that nobody in the office has any clue as to why Apple wants this information and for what purpose but it was confirmed that their servers were receiving messages (with location of users) when any two people connected via FaceTime.
I have to agree with Alpha’s statement about the lack of encryption in FaceTime. After all, since Apple wanted to send themselves user data, encryption could have prevented that. This could be one big reason why they didn’t bother adding security to FaceTime.
Apple Employees Not Updating Their iPhone to iOS 4
According to Alpha, some people who work in the iPhone department are reluctant to update to the latest iOS 4 since it breaches their privacy. One of his co-worker mistakenly updated to iOS 4.0, so “Alpha” downgraded the OS back to version 3.1.2 and listed the step-by-step guide so others can follow it as well.
It was not surprising to find him say that most people in their department are using jailbroken iPhone devices. Some excerpts of the conversation are in the screenshot below.
We believe Alpha because he is a trusted Apple insider and has answered pretty much everything I asked. We discussed a lot of other topics related to Apple which aren’t mentioned in this post, he knows some information that only few Apple employees are knowledgeable about.
He promises to provide me with further information, including screenshots when he gets hold of them. At the moment, he says it is near impossible to do so because, “if you plug in a flash drive to any MAC in our building within 30 seconds people will show up there and stop you. Also you will be terminated on the spot.”
At one point he requested to keep him anonymous because he was afraid that he might get crucified for leaking this information. Being our insider source, we had to comply. At another point during the conversation he said, “I will tell you this right now the things I am saying if you where to go to Jobs himself he would deny.”
He has promised to answer every question, so if you have anything to ask, feel free to leave a comment below. I will personally ask him and reply to your comment with the answer. He is making a risky decision but also one that is worth it, he tells me.
Update: I cannot lose the credibility of this blog, so I am going to update this post with any proof that he shares, which is promises to do so. Also I will ask him to verify that he is indeed an Apple employee, which I already did but will ask him for more proof in this regard. For all haters down in the comments, calm down. It could be just another rumor or it could come out to be true, perhaps Apple might include it in the next update of iOS 4, we cannot be sure. We wrote above what we believe our source knows. We did not make up any of the story, he asked me not to associate any nickames with him but in order to make it easier for understanding, I named this leaker “Alpha”. I will update this article soon within a few hours with any further information I can get my hands on.
Update 2: The person is legit, double confirmed it. Also I now have the screenshot. Expect a whole new post with more details soon.
Update 3: The proof of FaceTime is out. About the OTA update you guys will have to wait a few days since I need to confirm and gather more evidence. You can check out the FaceTime screenshot here.
Update 4: Some important clarification, when asked “If users have unlocked iPhones and are using it on another carrier, will AT&T still able to send OTA updates?”, He says “No” but adds “Apple can see if you give us that serial number or call us from that iPhone, what’s on it. They can also see if it is unlocked or jailbroken”.
When I asked, “if Apple can deactivate it when it is on another carrier?”, He says, “No, but they will void all warranty, not give you any support, and black flag the iPhone so you cannot even sell it on eBay”. Later he says, “if a buyer gets a jailbroken iPhone and calls Apple, they will not help him and notify him that the phone is flagged and he just got screwed.”
Final Update: A lot of people seem to be confused if this person is from “iPhone development” team or “iPhone Support” team, the answer is latter and the proofs are here. Sorry for mentioning “development” team earlier because I misread his conversation. He has access to all Apple internals which are made available to the Apple iPhone Support team across the US.
Among other things he has unveiled is thatiOS 4.1 will be out later this week and the issue is with software rather than Hardware.
AppleInsider seems to have busted this myth. They have an article showing how FaceTime works.
Another Update: You might want to have a look at another leak of the reception issue here.
Editor’s Notes: Just to clarify, AddictiveTips have nothing against Apple. The reason we choose to write this article and the reason “Alpha” choose to leak the information was simply because the users who own an Apple product have the right to know.