Feeds

Apple wipes smile off FaceTime in the Middle East

iOS upgrade disables vid calls

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Apple's FaceTime enables any iPhone 4 to make video calls to any other iPhone 4, assuming neither of them were bought in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Egypt or Jordan.

FaceTime was hyped by Steve Jobs as the application that would turn the world on to video calling, and Apple web sites proudly listed it as a key feature of the iPhone 4 - until about a month ago when any mention of the capability mysteriously vanished from Apple sites in certain countries. Now it seems the service itself isn't available on models of iPhone and iPod Touch bought in those countries.

Comparison of the different iPhone descriptions

On the right we have the Saudi page, on the left the UK description including video calling

The disappearances were noted by SaudiMac, which has been keeping a list of those countries where FaceTime won't work and tracking the progress of Nayef Almansi, a Saudi lawyer who bought an iPhone and is suing his local operator for selling him an iPhone without FaceTime

It seems that in its enthusiasm to bring video calling to the masses Apple neglected to allow for the fact that VoIP isn't legal in every country, and that an increasing number of countries require anyone providing telecommunications services (as Apple arguably is with FaceTime) to provide for lawful intercept. So while iOS 4.0.2 allows anyone to make FaceTime calls, upgrade to version 4.1 and if your iPhone came from the wrong place your video calling disappears.

SaudiMac has been delving into the iPhone configuration to see if the setting can be reversed, and it seems it can. That delving has turned up some interesting regional limitations - the Japanese aren't allowed to turn off the shutter sound, while the Chinese can't do Wi-Fi - but it's also located the NOVOIP flag that disables FaceTime, allowing those prepared to jailbreak their iPhones to enable the feature.

Apple fans can also import devices, which will continue to have FaceTime enabled - FaceTime only operates over Wi-Fi so can't be blocked by the network operator, but that won't help them video call with their less-globe-trotting colleagues.

One could argue that this is another example of Apple's arrogance, ignoring local sensibilities in the American pursuit of cultural imperialism. Or, equally, one could argue that these countries shouldn't be allowed to restrict the ways in which their citizens communicate. But with Western governments poised to follow the East in demanding lawful intercept we're afraid the only reason that FaceTime is allowed anywhere is because no-one really wants video calling anyway. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE & Vodafone will let you BONK on the TUBE – with Boris' blessing
Transport for London: You can pay, but don't touch
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
Google eyes business service in latest Fiber trials
Lucky Kansas City buggers to host yet another pilot program
Huawei exec: 'Word of mouth' will beat Apple and Samsung in Europe
World Mobile Telephone Factory No.3 won't fling the big bucks around just yet
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.