iOS 6.0 bug causes audio streams to download multiple times, can cause data overages

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A system-wide bug in Apple's iOS 6.0.0 AV Foundation framework has been found to trigger multiple downloads of streaming media, such as podcasts, over Wi-FI and cellular networks that could lead to massive data bills.

Bandwidth Spike
Source: PRX


The flaw was discovered by Public Radio Exchange Labs, the host of popular podcasts such as This American Life and The Moth, after researching a curiously high spike in download traffic. According to PRX, there is an issue in iOS 6 Audio Playback frameworks that results in files being downloaded multiple times, however the problem has apparently been resolved in iOS 6.0.1 and 6.1 beta.

First tipped off by This American Life, which complained of unusually high content delivery network (CDN) bills, PRX thought that the "rather extreme" spike in bandwidth was due to Apple's release of its Podcasts app. Following a series of tests that compared transfer activity in iOS 6 with iOS 5, it was determined that audio files were being downloaded multiple times due to errors in the new operating system's code.

"The player appears to get into a state where it makes multiple requests per second and closes them rapidly," PRX wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. "Because the ranges of these requests seem to overlap and the requests themselves each carry some overhead, this causes a single download of an MP3 to use significantly more bandwidth than in iOS 5. In one case, the playback of a single 30MB episode caused the transfer of over 100MB of data."

Multiple Requests
Screenshot from the PRX test showing multiple requests in rapid succession.


Not only does the bug affect Apple's first-party Podcasts app, but third-party titles as well, indicating that the underlying issue is system-wide.

It is unknown what exactly triggers the re-downloading of content, though it appears the timing is variable as the PRX test saw normal content downloads lasting for up to five minutes. What is consistent, however, is the activity seen when a file has completely downloaded. The tests show that once a file has finished downloading, the AV player restarts the download from the beginning and continues to do so as long as a user is streaming the file.

As seen in the video below, which shows the HTTP activity of the Podcasts app on iOS 6, the system sends multiple rapid requests even after buffering is complete and the file is downloaded.





PRX speculates the bug could be the cause of recent complaints regarding trouble with iPhone 5 data overages, with subscribers from various carriers claiming the handset was using cellular data despite being connected to Wi-Fi.

Because iOS 6.0.1 appears to have fixed the error, it is recommended that users running iOS 6.0 upgrade to the latest version to avoid incurring unintended and costly data charges.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    I think I encountered this issue a few weeks ago when I had an extra $60+ of data charges. I looked up my day-by-day use and I could see about 700MB of data on one day when I know I had listened to 2 podcasts (each about 35-40MB) via the Apple Podcast app. First time I'd ever had excess data charges in 2 years!

    Hopefully 6.0.1 has resolved this for good.
  • Reply 2 of 29
    Also affects iTunes Match downloads as well. If you start a download on WiFi, it will download over cellular... even if you turn off iTunes Match's cellular data option.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    I've seen large data overages but they seem associated with iTunes Match. Possibly the same problem?
  • Reply 4 of 29
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    scotty321 wrote: »
    Also affects iTunes Match downloads as well. If you start a download on WiFi, it will download over cellular... even if you turn off iTunes Match's cellular data option.

    Yep. This is the problem I encountered.
  • Reply 5 of 29
    igrivigriv Posts: 1,177member


    Another Scott Forstall feature.


     

  • Reply 6 of 29
    No surprise No surprise
  • Reply 7 of 29


    Is it just me or does this iOS version seem to be buggier than any previously??

  • Reply 8 of 29
    igrivigriv Posts: 1,177member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    Is it just me or does this iOS version seem to be buggier than any previously??



     

    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

    I have not used Maps much, and (luckily) have not run into the data thing (though a friend has), but the App store UI (redesigned for iOS 6) has serious performance issues on the iPad (it takes many minutes on my iPad 3 for the icons to be rendered). Bluetooth is noticeably flaky, so my personal experience is that it is not just you.


    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

     

  • Reply 9 of 29
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,991member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    Is it just me or does this iOS version seem to be buggier than any previously??



    It's just you. Blogs and tech sites are getting more and more strident in their Apple bashing these days. They jump on anything and blow it up into a -gate. Take for example the recent discovery of a bug involving quick swiping. The bug was so obscure that it took months for someone to even notice it but once it was made public the grist mills took off full speed ahead. Earlier versions of iOS probably had just as many glitches but they were taken in stride as part of the deal. Same with OS X. Ever peruse the Apple discussions forums after an OS X update release?  These days the tech jerk pundits have done a 180 on Apple and are after it tooth and nail.

  • Reply 10 of 29
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    Is it just me or does this iOS version seem to be buggier than any previously??



     


    Seems pretty buggy to me also.  More so than previous versions.  


     


    I don't have this one, but on my iPad mini I've experienced quite a few bugs in just the few days I've had it.  One really annoying one is the complete failure of the dictation feature.  It works every time on the regular iPad, but on the iPad mini (for me anyway), it fails after a couple of tries and won't ever work again until you reboot the machine.  If you ever "crash out" or otherwise stop a recognition (by hitting backspace), while it's "still thinking," the whole feature just stops and won't start again until after a re-boot.  I've noticed a few other bugs as well but that's the worst for me.  


     


    Every iOS release is shakier than the last IMO.  


     


    Apple is over-extending itself a bit I think, and the errors are probably more to do with the rapid pace of development in both hardware and software, combined with the very small number of folks that are actually on the job at Apple.  

  • Reply 11 of 29


    Well looks like they really messed up with iOS 6 big time. First Maps, removal of youtube without an alternative, WIFI issues and now data usage issues. No wonder scott forstall got his aR$e kicked out to the kerb.

  • Reply 12 of 29

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post


     


    Seems pretty buggy to me also.  More so than previous versions.  


     


    I don't have this one, but on my iPad mini I've experienced quite a few bugs in just the few days I've had it.  One really annoying one is the complete failure of the dictation feature.  It works every time on the regular iPad, but on the iPad mini (for me anyway), it fails after a couple of tries and won't ever work again until you reboot the machine.  If you ever "crash out" or otherwise stop a recognition (by hitting backspace), while it's "still thinking," the whole feature just stops and won't start again until after a re-boot.  I've noticed a few other bugs as well but that's the worst for me.  


     


    Every iOS release is shakier than the last IMO.  


     


    Apple is over-extending itself a bit I think, and the errors are probably more to do with the rapid pace of development in both hardware and software, combined with the very small number of folks that are actually on the job at Apple.  





    Definately agree with Apple over-extending itself, they should slow down a little bit and get things in place no point in having great designed hardware if the software is not up to it.

  • Reply 13 of 29


    Over-extending iOS development? You must be joking. It's not 2007 anymore.


    Maybe instead of paying out $2.5 Billion to shareholders, Apple should invest in better software QA.

  • Reply 14 of 29

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post


    Is it just me or does this iOS version seem to be buggier than any previously??



     


    No, I can remember having problems with all version of iPhone OS (later iOS) that ended in ".0.0".


    I think because iOS has more features now, there are more bugs, but it's still (for all that's included), a pretty stable OS.

  • Reply 15 of 29
    Whew, I hope the fix is for real!

    I was listening to radio stream (public radio of course!) and racked up over 5 gb of data in a couple of weeks! This was only listening to about 75 minutes a day - and only at 32kbps to boot. Although it was not a 'podcast' - It was an audio stream. I don't think that was dfferentiated in the article

    In the past with ios5, data usage for that amount of streaming was well under 200 mb per month!

    No wonder the battery power was also sucking!
  • Reply 16 of 29
    I wouldn't dare listening to This American Life after finding out all those stories from Mikey Daisey were all lies. That was a very wrong thing to do*

    *"The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs"
    Wikipedia

    gazoobee wrote: »
    Apple is over-extending itself a bit I think, and the errors are probably more to do with the rapid pace of development in both hardware and software, combined with the very small number of folks that are actually on the job at Apple.  

    I like a rumor site as much the next guy, but to state that Apple is "over-extending itself" is a bit rich for me. And people claiming they know that there is a "very small number of folks that are actually on the job" should not be posting if they know this statement is true. If they do, they would be working for Apple, and last time I heard, things are hush hush within Apple and its employees. And you one is working there, you should respect that.

    Is it just me or does this iOS version seem to be buggier than any previously??

    No, I can remember having problems with all version of iPhone OS (later iOS) that ended in ".0.0".
    I think because iOS has more features now, there are more bugs, but it's still (for all that's included), a pretty stable OS.

    Good point. Seems stable to me as well, haven't had an app crash, haven't had a single issue with iOS6. Of course I don't go around posting on the internet that it is stable for me; you'll only read about people who are experiencing a bug. So even though they are in minority, it would appear iOS is buggy because those are the 'only' stories shared.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    hjbhjb Posts: 278member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    Seems stable to me as well, haven't had an app crash, haven't had a single issue with iOS6. Of course I don't go around posting on the internet that it is stable for me; you'll only read about people who are experiencing a bug


     


    Really?  Just after my wife complained that App store became too difficult to search, our iPad shut down and rebooted itself today.  What she did was rearranging icons after downloading a couple of apps for our kids.  I also witnessed number of app crashes and freezings while our kids were using it since iOS6.

  • Reply 18 of 29
    6.0.1 has fixed nothing for me. I've reached my data limit again this month. I now have to remember to switch off data while I'm travelling to and from work. It's not even as if I need the Podcasts app to download anything while I'm out!
  • Reply 19 of 29
    Oh my. That's bad. Sorry to hear this. Did anything crash when you rearranged icons on any previous version of iOS? Auto-reboot, hmm, strange. I read somewhere iPhones can shut themselves down in order to avoid overheating.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    zozmanzozman Posts: 393member


    this must have happened to me, i apparently downloaded, 6.5GB in 2 weeks....All on LTE & 3G

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