Some interesting details about the iPhone 4 have showed up through AddictiveTips recently that details what information Apple may be collecting as you use FaceTime, and how the iOS 4 updates will be handled on AT&T.
In a pretty dramatic writeup (and followup), AddictiveTips lays out the goods:
- 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.
Though I'm pretty sure Apple isn't "stealing" your information - rather you agree to the sharing of private data when you sign up for your new steel and glass beauty.
What ended up being more controversially spoken (and admittedly ridiculous) than it should have been, AddictiveTips took great lengths to prove a connection with an 'Apple Employee' as they laid out the details of FaceTime, claiming that Apple sent user's location data via an unencrypted message from the phones to Apple's server.
I'm not personally concerned that Apple is sending location data (which they are) - perhaps Apple and AT&T are mapping where users are most likely to use the FaceTime service in major cities so AT&T can profile their customers and enhance their wireless network to support video (my theory). My concern is that with unencrypted data, you're exposed to malicious intent if you're on an unsecured wireless network. Apple absolves themselves by saying you should be on a secure network - but what if you're an airport or hotel?
The second problem comes with AT&T and Apple locking you down on the iPhone. According to the Apple employee insider (who's probably been fired by now):
"... 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 [The Apple Employee] himself checked."
He goes on further to state that many Apple employees have downgraded to the last iPhone version because of the restriction. The Apple employee continued to write (this should all be verbatim):
"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."
While I'm constantly floating between the camp of both the jailbroken and 'pure' iPhone experience, I'm not too happy that Apple can start spying on my Cydia sessions if I decide that I need more functionality than they provide me with. I also don't appreciate Apple Store Employees having the ability to compromise the privacy of information on my device.
"The A Team" is cracking down on your iPhone as of iOS 4, so just be aware of what's happening in the background.