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Did Apple deliberately break FaceTime on old phones to force people to upgrade?

Did Apple deliberately break FaceTime on old phones to force people to upgrade?
© Fizkes | Dreamstime.com

Remember last summer when Microsoft was pushing everyone to upgrade to Windows 10? To encourage people to make the switch, the company used some questionable tactics - at one point, even using annoying ads to grab users' attention.

But Microsoft may not be the only company that's guilty of taking a controversial approach to getting people to upgrade. Apple has just come under fire, facing accusations of the same thing. A class action lawsuit has been filed against the company in California, claiming the tech giant deliberately caused one of its most popular features to malfunction so that users would be forced to upgrade.

The instance in question took place just after the release of iOS 7. According to the lawsuit, it was around this time when Apple made a change that caused FaceTime to stop working in iOS 6. This change essentially left anyone still on the old operating system with no choice but to upgrade. However, upgrading to iOS 7 made older versions of the iPhone (such as the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S) useless.

Note: This isn't the only controversy with Apple. Click here to see why the company wants to harvest more of your data.

To understand the basis of the lawsuit, you first need to know that there was more going on behind the scenes at Apple than a simple nudge toward iOS 7. The lawsuit breaks down additional factors that may have also contributed to the company's overall motivation. Factors that were costing Apple an average of $8.3 million per month.

For Apple, pushing iPhone users to iOS 7 was a solution that allowed them to cut ties with a company called Akamai for data costs.

Getting a bit technical here, but when FaceTime first launched, Apple relied on two separate technologies to connect one caller with another via video chat. The first used what's called "peer-to-peer" standard to transfer audio and video data back and forth, and the second used a "relay method." This relay method required Apple to contract with third-party data companies, such as Akamai.

After spending millions of dollars per month to support the relay method required in FaceTime, Apple executives naturally began looking for ways to cut this expense out of the equation. A solution was built into iOS 7, however, many iPhone users decided to stick with the older operating system.

Note: Click here for a sneak peek of Apple's iOS 10.3 >>

Keep in mind, all tech products have what's called an "end of life" date - or, in other words, an expiration date. These dates determine how long certain products will continue to be maintained by the manufacturers with regular software updates.

Apple's role in this incident is being placed under high scrutiny, however, due to a series of emails that were exchanged among staff members. These emails essentially document the deliberate breaking of the FaceTime feature in iOS 6, leaving only one solution.

One email stated: "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."

Another said: "For iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users, for example, the coerced move to iOS 7 subjected their devices to slowness, system crashes, erratic behavior and/or the elimination of their ability to use critical functions on their phone."

Only time will tell how the lawsuit will turn out. But what do you think? Does this change how you feel about Apple products? Let us know in the comments.

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