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  1. #1
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    MVNOs on iOS 6, downgrading, the meaning of "unlocked", and my letter to Apple

    I'm a long-time iPhone user (since 2008) who has -- on the whole -- been happy with the platform, but over the past month I have found myself in an argument with Apple over how I feel that they "broke" my phone with the upgrade to iOS 6.

    I wrote a letter to them, which I have since published here:

    http://www.anderson-net.com/~nathan/letter-to-apple

    As I've discussed this with other people, I have come to realize that the conversation surrounding my particular gripe actually encompasses a whole host of issues, including the meaning of "unlocked" (is "unlocked" the new "unlimited"?), Apple's treatment of carriers they have no formal agreement with (and their users), and software downgrade rights and device ownership.

    If there is anybody out there other than myself who is frustrated that the iPhone does not currently play nice with StraightTalk specifically, or with a certain class of MVNOs in general, please let Apple know...things are less likely to change if I'm the only one complaining.

    There is an ongoing discussion thread that I started over at MacRumors last week, which you can find by going here. I'm linking to this not to redirect traffic from here over to there, but simply because there's a good deal of discussion that has already occurred there that doesn't make sense to rehash a second time. I'm happy to interact with people about this topic here on HowardForums as well.

    -- Nathan

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    While I understand and am sympathetic to your complaints, in reference to the first issue I don't think this is a problem caused by Apple but rather specific to AT&T. I say that because I believe it is AT&T's provisioning profile (and not Apple's software per se) that specifically hides the Cellular Data Network dialog. (The same applies to the Carrier select and Personal Hotspot dialogs.) I have used unlocked iPhones with SIM cards from other official iPhone carriers (like Vodafone, SoftBank, O2) on many occasions and they all have the Cellular Data Network, Carrier select, and Personal Hotspot dialogs active, in spite of being official iPhone carriers. So there is nothing in Apple's software that says to hide those dialogs for any carrier that has a provisioning profile, but rather that some carriers (specifically AT&T) have added those restrictions to their specific profiles. Since this is all contractually specified by the carrier, I do not believe that Apple is free to make any changes in that regard that would satisfy you.

    PRL Interpretations
    XFF's AlphaTag software
    Cellular and PCS License Maps
    Quote Originally Posted by gpatrick900
    I am a little confused. My Verizon phone was able to roam on GSM because they used TDMA. Tell it was shutdown. The phone recognizes it as Analog. If PCS has TDMA, It could be technically be used on GSM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tabla View Post
    Y'know, I'm used to hysterical 14-year-old ******** on the internet, but this is exceptional. Never before in human history have so many nerds hyperventilated so publicly over so little.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by XFF View Post
    I say that because I believe it is AT&T's provisioning profile (and not Apple's software per se) that specifically hides the Cellular Data Network dialog. (The same applies to the Carrier select and Personal Hotspot dialogs.) So there is nothing in Apple's software that says to hide those dialogs for any carrier that has a provisioning profile, but rather that some carriers (specifically AT&T) have added those restrictions to their specific profiles. Since this is all contractually specified by the carrier, I do not believe that Apple is free to make any changes in that regard that would satisfy you.
    It is interesting to see where Apple does give up control to carriers. I expected that this practice would have ended by now, but I guess Apple sees some advantage to giving carriers this much control.
    Seems like it is cool to have these in your sig?

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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
    I wrote a letter to them, which I have since published here:

    http://www.anderson-net.com/~nathan/letter-to-apple
    Hey that's almost as long as the letter Apple wrote to you before installing or using iOS 6. It can be found right here: http://images.apple.com/legal/sla/docs/iOS6.pdf

    As I've discussed this with other people, I have come to realize that the conversation surrounding my particular gripe actually encompasses a whole host of issues, including the meaning of "unlocked" (is "unlocked" the new "unlimited"?), Apple's treatment of carriers they have no formal agreement with (and their users), and software downgrade rights and device ownership.
    Well this is awkward, they kind of addressed all your concerns in the above letter I linked to... section 7.2....

    If there is anybody out there other than myself who is frustrated that the iPhone does not currently play nice with StraightTalk specifically, or with a certain class of MVNOs in general, please let Apple know...things are less likely to change if I'm the only one complaining.
    Section 7.3 covers this, it's probably not that Apple doesn't want to play nice, it's just really complicated or not worth the money for StraightTalk to support the iPhone in their line up.

    There is an ongoing discussion thread that I started over at MacRumors last week, which you can find by going here. I'm linking to this not to redirect traffic from here over to there, but simply because there's a good deal of discussion that has already occurred there that doesn't make sense to rehash a second time. I'm happy to interact with people about this topic here on HowardForums as well.

    -- Nathan
    Well I hope you find a happy medium.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by XFF View Post
    I say that because I believe it is AT&T's provisioning profile (and not Apple's software per se) that specifically hides the Cellular Data Network dialog.
    I do realize this, as I hope some of my replies over @ MacRumors make clear. But I guess my point is that as a consumer, the technical reason behind it shouldn't matter. If Apple argued to me that there's nothing they can do because their agreement with AT&T forbids it, I would counter with, "So what? What does your agreement with AT&T have to do with me? You sold me a $550 unlocked phone, and it doesn't work."

    If it were an AT&T model phone, that would be one thing. But since it's an unlocked phone, that's a different thing entirely. If Apple actually has an agreement with AT&T that states that their carrier profile trumps everything, including unlock status on phones that AT&T receives no subsidy payment from Apple on, then Apple needs to fix that pronto.

    -- Nathan

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    Quote Originally Posted by tendenzi View Post
    Hey that's almost as long as the letter Apple wrote to you before installing or using iOS 6. It can be found right here: http://images.apple.com/legal/sla/docs/iOS6.pdf
    You know, I might give a crap what the licensing agreement says if Apple gave their users a choice as to whether or not they had to use their latest software. Here's the thing:

    1) After upgrading to iOS 6, you are actively prevented from downgrading.

    2) Even if I had not upgraded to iOS 6 willfully, if I was still running iOS 5.1 and the software decided to flake out on me, requiring a device restore, I would not be allowed to restore to the same version of the software that I'm already running. They would have forced the upgrade to iOS 6 at that time, so point #1 still stands.

    -- Nathan

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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
    You know, I might give a crap what the licensing agreement says if Apple gave their users a choice as to whether or not they had to use their latest software. Here's the thing:

    1) After upgrading to iOS 6, you are actively prevented from downgrading.

    2) Even if I had not upgraded to iOS 6 willfully, if I was still running iOS 5.1 and the software decided to flake out on me, requiring a device restore, I would not be allowed to restore to the same version of the software that I'm already running. They would have forced the upgrade to iOS 6 at that time, so point #1 still stands.

    -- Nathan
    Hey I know! Don't shoot the messenger, that's what the opening statement in the EULA is for:
    ENGLISH
    IMPORTANT: BY USING YOUR iPHONE, iPAD or iPOD TOUCH (“iOS DEVICE”), YOU ARE AGREEING TO BE BOUND BY THE FOLLOWING TERMS:
    A. APPLE iOS SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT
    B. NOTICES FROM APPLE
    APPLE INC.
    iOS SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT Single Use License
    PLEASE READ THIS SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT ("LICENSE") CAREFULLY BEFORE USING YOUR iOS DEVICE OR DOWNLOADING THE SOFTWARE UPDATE ACCOMPANYING THIS LICENSE. BY USING YOUR iOS DEVICE OR DOWNLOADING A SOFTWARE UPDATE, AS APPLICABLE, YOU ARE AGREEING TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS OF THIS LICENSE. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THE TERMS OF THIS LICENSE, DO NOT USE THE iOS DEVICE OR DOWNLOAD THE SOFTWARE UPDATE.
    IF YOU HAVE RECENTLY PURCHASED AN iOS DEVICE AND YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THE TERMS OF THE LICENSE, YOU MAY RETURN THE iOS DEVICE WITHIN THE RETURN PERIOD TO THE APPLE STORE OR AUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTOR WHERE YOU OBTAINED IT FOR A REFUND, SUBJECT TO APPLE'S RETURN POLICY FOUND AT http:// www.apple.com/legal/sales_policies/
    .
    Those are Apple's ALL-CAPS rage, not mine.

    I just thought you would be happy to know they already answered your letter.

    Edit: You can also restore your phone from the device without having to update the software.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
    I do realize this, as I hope some of my replies over @ MacRumors make clear. But I guess my point is that as a consumer, the technical reason behind it shouldn't matter. If Apple argued to me that there's nothing they can do because their agreement with AT&T forbids it, I would counter with, "So what? What does your agreement with AT&T have to do with me? You sold me a $550 unlocked phone, and it doesn't work."

    If it were an AT&T model phone, that would be one thing. But since it's an unlocked phone, that's a different thing entirely. If Apple actually has an agreement with AT&T that states that their carrier profile trumps everything, including unlock status on phones that AT&T receives no subsidy payment from Apple on, then Apple needs to fix that pronto.

    -- Nathan
    I think your complaints are quite legitimate; however, I don't think enough users are affected in the same way for Apple to care. They allow AT&T to dictate a lot.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
    I do realize this, as I hope some of my replies over @ MacRumors make clear. But I guess my point is that as a consumer, the technical reason behind it shouldn't matter. If Apple argued to me that there's nothing they can do because their agreement with AT&T forbids it, I would counter with, "So what? What does your agreement with AT&T have to do with me? You sold me a $550 unlocked phone, and it doesn't work."
    It has something to do with you because you're using AT&T's network, and AT&T is free to impose certain restrictions upon clients on its network regardless of which device they're using.

    If it were an AT&T model phone, that would be one thing. But since it's an unlocked phone, that's a different thing entirely. If Apple actually has an agreement with AT&T that states that their carrier profile trumps everything, including unlock status on phones that AT&T receives no subsidy payment from Apple on, then Apple needs to fix that pronto.
    Unlocked just means that the phone will accept all compatible SIM cards and work on any compatible carrier. It does not preclude the SIM card itself or the providing carrier from imposing additional restrictions, which is the case here. Since StraightTalk uses AT&T's network, StraightTalk users are bound by certain restrictions inherent to AT&T and their policies and business practices. The fact that AT&T doesn't allow its users to edit APN settings is not Apple's doing, that's an AT&T policy/business decision that is simply communicated to the iOS device via certain settings either on the SIM card or in AT&T's provisioning profile. I bet as a StraightTalk user you're also unable to use FaceTime over Cellular, you're unable to use Personal Hotspot, you're unable to select your preferred carrier, and you're unable to see the real carrier name in the alphatag. None of those restrictions are imposed by Apple, they could care less whether those restrictions exist or not, they simply implement and enforce what the programming on the SIM card and the provisioning profile tell them to do.

    While I'm just as unhappy with those restrictions as you are, your beef should be with AT&T and not with Apple.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
    1) After upgrading to iOS 6, you are actively prevented from downgrading.

    2) Even if I had not upgraded to iOS 6 willfully, if I was still running iOS 5.1 and the software decided to flake out on me, requiring a device restore, I would not be allowed to restore to the same version of the software that I'm already running. They would have forced the upgrade to iOS 6 at that time, so point #1 still stands.

    -- Nathan
    I absolutely agree with everything you said and i feel for you.. I'm in the same boat...the morning of the new iOS 6 release, i woke up, and updated my iPad 2, iPad 3, and iPhone 4S to iOS 6...ohh about an hour later i realized that i made a BIG BIG mistake...it sucked big time...maps was horrible...and i mean horrible. The thing about maps is, i don't even use it for anything like turn by turn directions, but i use it most for google maps TRAFFIC. I find that the traffic that google maps provides is quick, accurate, and available in tons of places even main roads in towns. Then there was the missing youtube app, and just things like that in general that i hated.

    Anyway, to my point, LUCKILY the downgrading window was still open (i think they keep it open for a day or two) i successfully downloaded the apple 5.1.1 software, and downgraded my ipads and iphone. Had I have kept iOS 6, I wouldn't have been able to jailbreak by iphone which would've prevented me from tethering my prepaid Straight Talk service to my computers and ipads during the week-long cable tv/internet outage. Those are only three examples of why iOS sucks donkey balls and why apple sucks about not allowing you to use the iOS you want....at least for a few years after it's "obsolete"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by XFF View Post
    The fact that AT&T doesn't allow its users to edit APN settings is not Apple's doing, that's an AT&T policy/business decision that is simply communicated to the iOS device via certain settings either on the SIM card or in AT&T's provisioning profile. I bet as a StraightTalk user you're also unable to use FaceTime over Cellular and you're unable to use Personal Hotspot and you're unable to see the real carrier name in the alphatag. None of those restrictions are imposed by Apple, they could care less whether those restrictions exist or not, they simply implement what the programming on the SIM card and the provisioning profile tell them to do.

    While I'm just as unhappy with those restrictions as you are, your beef should be with AT&T and not with Apple.
    He can also have a beef with Apple for allowing AT&T to have this much control over his device. Apple writes the software that allows AT&T to have this much control. If Apple wanted to, they could allow the APN to be edited, but they are ceding control to AT&T.

    To say Apple has no say in this is completely wrong.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mandrsn1 View Post
    He can also have a beef with Apple for allowing AT&T to have this much control over his device. Apple writes the software that allows AT&T to have this much control. If Apple wanted to, they could allow the APN to be edited, but they are ceding control to AT&T.

    To say Apple has no say in this is completely wrong.
    Exactly; thank you.

    I cannot name one single other unlocked GSM phone model on the market that prevents the APNs from being edited for any reason. Can anyone else name one?

    Also, the only APN that cannot be edited at this time on iOS 6 when using an AT&T SIM (besides the tethering APN, which I'm going to avoid discussing for now since that's another whole can of worms) is the MMS one. You really think that by blocking on-device APN editing with their carrier profile that they were specifically trying to prevent iPhones on StraightTalk from being able to send and receive MMS messages? It's the only phone model on the StraightTalk MVNO that supports MMS but can't send/receive them. I'm sure that wasn't AT&T's intention and it doesn't even make sense that this would be in their interest to do.

    I'm arguing that neither Apple nor AT&T thought this through properly: Apple should've approached carrier profiles and activation differently (and, I would argue, should not be effective on unlocked phones, period), and AT&T should've thought through the unintended consequences of disabling APN editing on the device, which really serves no purpose. (After taking tethering out of the equation, which could be controlled separately anyway if Apple had thought to do that, name one thing that people can do to "abuse" network resources if they had access to APN editing. There's no threat to carriers by allowing this.)

    -- Nathan

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    To give you an analogy, a certain Exchange server I connect to imposes a number of restrictions upon my device, for instance my Auto-Lock cannot be longer than 3 minutes, my passcode cannot be turned off, I cannot set a simple passcode, and my device will be wiped after only 5 failed passcode attempts. Is that the device's fault? Or Apple's fault? No! It's the policy of the service provider that I have to abide by if I want to use their server. If I'm unhappy with those restrictions I could use a different Exchange server, but it's not something that Apple has any control over on their end. They simply enforce the restrictions put in place by the infrastructure provider.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by XFF View Post
    To give you an analogy, a certain Exchange server I connect to imposes a number of restrictions upon my device, for instance my Auto-Lock cannot be longer than 3 minutes, my passcode cannot be turned off, I cannot set a simple passcode, and my device will be wiped after only 5 failed passcode attempts. Is that the device's fault? Or Apple's fault? No! It's the policy of the service provider that I have to abide by if I want to use their server.
    That is a poor analogy. AT&T doesn't have the same policies on all their devices. Having APNs that cannot change is only found on Apple devices. I cannot edit APNs on my iPhone 5, yet on my AT&T purchased Motorola Atrix, I can make up new APNs and use them. So it isn't AT&T having a policy all devices must abide by (like your Exchange example). This is Apple making software to give AT&T more control over the device.

    This may just be a simple oversight on Apple's part, but it may cause issues for a percentage of users.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tendenzi View Post
    Hey I know! Don't shoot the messenger, that's what the opening statement in the EULA is for:
    Sooo...if someone has a complaint about someone else's software product, whether it's a shortcoming, a missing feature, a bug, or what-have-you, customers shouldn't ever bother voicing their discontent with the software to the author because every piece of software ever written already answers every possible objection that can be raised by simply claiming that "there is no warranty, expressed or implied"?

    Really?

    Also, I love the part you quoted about "if you do not agree to the terms of the license, you may return the iOS device within the return period...", which of course doesn't apply to somebody who has had their phone for well over a year and was completely content with the older version of the software that it used to run and which that person cannot return back to. You know, someone such as myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by tendenzi View Post
    Edit: You can also restore your phone from the device without having to update the software.
    Correction: you can restore an iTunes backup to a phone that has a software load on it that still works without updating the software. If the OS software itself screws up, and you're instructed to do a "full restore" by Apple (meaning a restore of the OPERATING SYSTEM, not your PERSONAL DATA...unfortunately, Apple has overloaded the word "restore" to also mean what people usually associate with the phrase "format and reinstall"), you CANNOT reinstall back to the phone the same version of the OS that you were running seconds before. You will be forced to the latest release whether you want it or not.

    This whole thing would be like Microsoft saying, "Oh, you upgraded to Vista on a computer that was previously running XP just fine, and now you want to go back? Haha! ...*ahem*, sorry; no, that's not possible." (And, "oh, by the way, if you ever need to reinstall Windows, we will force you to use the latest version, whether you want it or not.") How well do you think this would go over with the general computing population?

    -- Nathan

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