Filed in 2017, the class-action lawsuit accused Apple of disabling the video-calling application on the iPhone 4 and 4S as a cost-saving measure.
To operate FaceTime calls, Apple uses peer-to-peer direct connection as well as another method that relies on third-party servers for FaceTime calls. However, a patent dispute over the peer-to-peer method between Apple and VirnetX lead Apple the tech giant to rely more on third-party servers. In turn, that cost the company millions of dollars.
With iOS 7, Apple launched new peer-to-peer tech. AppleInsider notes that at the time, some iPhone 4 and 4S owners refused to upgrade from iOS 6 to 7 based on reports that the new operating system caused problems with legacy devices. The plaintiffs claim the company broke FaceTime on older iPhones on purpose with the new tech and forced users to upgrade their platforms. However, Apple blamed the compatibility issue was a bug and cited the following correspondence between software engineers:
“Hey, guys. I’m looking at the Akamai contract for next year. I understand we did something in April around iOS 6 to reduce relay utilization,” wrote an Apple engineer in an email chain.
“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,” wrote another engineer in response.
Apple fought the case until January when the company agreed to settle. A new court filing this week details the settlement terms, including the $18 million USD payout.
However, none of the plaintiffs in the class action will get a significant amount of money. Each member of the class action will get only $3 USD (about $4.20 CAD) per affected device. While that number may increase if some choose not to claim their cheques, it likely won’t be a significant change for most.