Apple May Be Blocking “Push” Feature on Hacked iPhones

Czech-based PoweryBase is reporting that users of their NotifyMe app with “hacktivated” phones may be blocked from using Apple’s push notification server. The NotifyMe [App Store] program is a simple Push-based application available on the iTunes App Store which reminds users of personal tasks and appointments using the Apple Push Notification Service.

Although the European based development team expressed concern with customers’ satifaction, PoweryBase stated that it would not be able to help NotifyMe users with resolving the issue. Further investigation shows that Apple may be intentionally blocking Push Notification Service to fight users who break carrier monthly plan agreements and unofficially unlock these subsidized devices to work with other carriers which Apple is not partnered with.

“When the Push based application such as NotifyMe requests an ID from APNS, the server responds within a second and identifies the device with the unique token. From that point, the connection between APNS and user’s device is successfully established,” said Pavel Serbajlo, PoweryBase’s lead developer. “However, on a unofficially activated device, APNS keeps the application wait forever and does not provide any respond at all, keeping user wait infinitely or time out the connection, if the target application is capable of timing out.”

While not responding to requests as to whether the client application is requesting unexpected data is common in small UDP based services, larger infrastructures such as APNS usually respond with an error to let the users or third party developers know what caused the connection to fail for further debugging. The described scenario might not be tested at Apple, or more possibly, the behavior is intentional.

PoweryBase reported that it has managed to find a way to warn users with modified devices by running a process on a separate thread which monitors if the token was retrieved successfully. If the token request was not filled within 20 seconds, the NotifyMe user is encouraged to read frequently asked questions at PoweryBase’s website to possibly prevent bad rating reviews.

PoweryBase has stated that it does not recommend iTunes App Store users with unofficially activated devices to buy NotifyMe and possibly other Push-based applications until there’s a modification in how APNS behaves with these devices or how it responds to unexpected requests.

Apple has yet to comment on this issue.

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