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back to article Apple releases fix for iPhone 4S iOS 6.1 connectivity cockup

If you're an iPhone 4S owner experiencing 3G connectivity problems since updating to iOS 6.1, Apple says it has a fix. On Monday, Apple released iOS 6.1.1 for iPhone 4S to address the difficulties that owners of those smartphones have had since upgrading to iOS 6.1 on January 28. iPhone 4S owners may understandably hope that …

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Silver badge

On the principle of parsimony, the three symptoms reported are likely caused by a single bug.

1. 3G connectivity issues for all network users.

2. Repeated connects to MS Exchange.

3. Battery drain.

The one closest to the root cause being point 2.

Indeed this sounds like a regression. There was an old iOS bug previously fixed where for certain versions of exchange server, the mail client would get in an endless cycle of reconnects if the user switched on push notification. The connection would generate additional push notifications, which the mail client would try to process, generating more push notifications. When first encountered, very few users would have had their iPhones hooked up to exchange.

But if it has been re-introduced with a mass update now that the number if exchange users has ballooned, it's clear what the result will be. Huge simultaneous data usage on nodes where companies have many users in the vicinity accessing the versions of exchange where iOS mail has this problem - knocking out 3G for all users of the node and battery drain because of the continual reconnects. (for those who aren't familiar with software engineering, as counter intuitive as it may sound, regressions are a common occurrence, for certain classes of problem, if a bug is encountered and fixed once, it is far more likely to be encountered again in the future when further changes are made to code).

If it's a regression of that bug it was always debatable who's fault it was. But in my opinion MS win the argument on the principle that even if Exchange behaviour participates in the problem and is bad design wise, it is ok with MIcrosoft's own mail clients, and Exchange, released first, always exhibited the behaviour so Apple's clients, coming later, should have identified the problem and worked around it.

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Unless...

Quote

Exchange, released first, always exhibited the behaviour so Apple's clients, coming later, should have identified the problem and worked around it.

There could be a secret API call that the MS clients make that allows them to work when all the other ones don't do this secret handshake and suffer because of it.

This wouldn't be the first time either (see MS vs WordPerfect law suit if you don't believe me)

I have no proof of the above but I wouldn't put it past them to give preference to their clients.

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Facepalm

missed point 4: shoddy Apple software.

Incredible as may seem, but you must first connect to the network before connecting to MS Exchange. The other incredible thing is that 3G is a packet switched network, email connect messages are no more of a burden that say video calling

What does break networks is malformed packets or malformed protocol negotiations... On regular networks we call this a " Denial of Service " attack whether intended or accidental.

Whatever the cause, people use mobile telephones for very serious stuff like calling emergency services, phone manufactures have a responsibility to thoroughly test their software or risk being blacklisted.

Apple's response needs to be very open and honest, or we'll all end-up paying for DDOS protection through network fees

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Re: missed point 4: shoddy Apple software.

@Stephen Channell, which then ignores the principle of parsimony. You could be right, and it could be mutliple bugs, but the principle if parsimony dictates the most likely explanation is the simplest explanation which fits all the facts. So you have ignored that excessive and exchange connectivity is one of the reported problems.

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Mushroom

Re: missed point 4: shoddy Apple software.

errr... maybe you meant to use another obscure word, but parsimony is not the right one. MS Exchange is not some ethereal magic, to the phone it is just a socket endpoint that sends and receives packets over the network (like video packets, but not nearly as many).

The simplest explanation is that Apple’s latest work-around to the iPhone-4 aerial problem was to “pretend” the network was working whilst the customer “held it wrong” to avoid error-recovery. In this case “pretend” failed because it could send a network-connect message, but couldn’t hear the response… flooding the network cell with messages that need to be authenticated centrally.

Maybe Apple the “fix” is to replace everybody’s iPhone4 with an iPhone5

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Silver badge

Re: missed point 4: shoddy Apple software.

"The principle if parsimony" is a well known technique in logical analysis.

The reason 3G data could be taken out by exchange connections is simply that at the wireless layer, bandwidth simply isn't that great. It's easy for multiple users in a single cell to take out the data if the all request it simultaneously. Unfortunately packets then have have nothing to do with it. Go down low enough and all non-fibre networks have an analogue layer with fixed bandwidth. Wireless or over the air connections have much less than than ethernet cable, it's simple, unfortunately unavoidable, physics. Since many users connect to Exchange, and there will be cells with large businesses in range where many users working for the business would be affected *simultaneously*, then it is actually quite easy for a cells data channel to be taken out.

A bug causing retries to Exchange server on a mass scale will exharcerbate any bandwidth limitation once the limit is hit, with all the unsatisfied requests piling up on one another. Indeed a kind of unintentional DOS attack.

Anyway, I don't mind admitting this *is all hypothesis.* I could easily be wrong.

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Re: missed point 4: shoddy Apple software.

Except this problem has been with the 4S which fixed the antennagate problem: the 4 (which had the antenna problem) is fine by all accounts.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm *not* saying there is no bug but updates / change can also be like a placebo. Apple could release an update that was exactly the same as the version before (i.e. still with the bug) and I'm sure some people who previously reported a problem would say their battery life had improved - all too often it's subjective / anecdotal.

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Facepalm

You're updating it wrong

Users are so stupid. Why on earth can't they use Apple products properly?

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Anonymous Coward

Only it for the money

Sing: Apple sittin' on a pile o' cash all the doo dah day!!

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Trollface

The Bitterness is strong....

Anyway, getting past the anti-apple Register brigade and commenters. This update (6.1.1) has fixed the problems I had with network dropouts on Vodafone (Eeven toggling Aeroplane mode on/off didn't work).

Signal is a lot better stabler and connectivity seems faster now.

O2 / EE did come out and say they didn't see any problems, only Vodafone, maybe a Cellular Model driver??

My battery life on my 18 month old 4S lasts me all day, usually around 24 hours, listening to web radio or podcasts and with x3 exchange accounts pushing :)

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Thumb Down

Re: The Bitterness is strong....

With only 8 comments and only a couple of them seeming openly 'anti-apple' I'd say this was the least amount of bitterness I've ever seen on a Reg Apple story.

I think you're being a bit sensitive there son.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Bitterness is strong....

The ridiculous thing is people are still commenting on the thread announcing the problem and ignoring this one to say it's FIXED.

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Trollface

Re: The Bitterness is strong....

At least Apple is updating their software for supported phones, something other companies can learn from. As much crap as Apple gets on this site, that might get overlooked.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Bitterness is strong....

Maps are still crap...still waiting on a fix for this!!!

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Facepalm

Re: Maps are still crap...still waiting on a fix for this!!!

App Store - Search - Google Maps - Install. Done.

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Happy

Re: The Bitterness is strong....

Maps was terrible when it launched but this was 4 or 5 months ago.

To be fair with Apple they seem to be fixing it real fast.

When I got the iPhone5 I was desperate to use any other Map. (even web based Google Map) but since about mid-December I have used exclusively Apple Maps and it does the job perfectly well.

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Re: Maps are still crap...still waiting on a fix for this!!!

That is the fix I used. Google maps work as well as ever.

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Bronze badge
Go

Got a text from Vodafone this morning...

... telling me to install 6.1.1 to help fix connection issues. Will keep an eye on it to see how things go

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I'd noticed the battery issue. It seems to have fixed it.

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FAIL

Another issue - GPS

There is another issue that I have found with the iOS 6.x updated on an iPhone 4 that appears to be affecting other users as well - very poor GPS accuracy. Sometimes Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps all have issues with GPS accuracy being as much as 500m out from the correct location. Downgrade to iOS5.x and all is good - never skips a beat which leads me to think that it's not a satellite location issue, but another "feature" of the new iOS.

Come on Apple........

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another issue - GPS

And pray tell how exactly are you downgrading to iOS 5?

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Anonymous Coward

(no signal)

Because Apple owners have got so much more of interest to say, especially when calling from coffee shops (sorry, 'Baristiques' as we now know them), perhaps the sheer volume of calls from iPhone owners calling each other with the good news that they are still iPhone owners, just overloads networks.

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Anonymous Coward

Easiest battery life improvement technique:

Bin the rotten Apple.

Go for a better phone. Maybe with a removable battery?

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