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A stolen iPhone may be behind the avalanche of iOS 14 leaks

Published May 22nd, 2020 8:08PM EDT
iOS 14 Features
Image: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
  • Apple will likely release iOS 14 to the public this coming September.
  • A number of iOS 14 features have leaked out over the past few weeks and months.
  • A stolen iPhone 11 may be the source of a number of iOS 14 rumors and leaks we’ve seen recently.

Even though we’re months away from a new iPhone release and just a few weeks away from Apple unveiling iOS 14, we seemingly know all there is to know about Apple’s next-gen mobile hardware and software. Despite Apple’s best efforts, and despite Tim Cook exclaiming that Apple would be “doubling down” on product secrecy, details surrounding upcoming iPhone models and iOS releases routinely leak out months ahead of time.

When it comes to an upcoming iPhone release, it’s easy to see how information tends to leak out. Apple’s supply chain, after all, is incredibly vast. In turn, trusting supply chain partners and component suppliers to effectively keep a lid on new designs and features is simply not realistic at this point. iOS leaks, however, are an entirely different matter. While you can blame the supply chain for iPhone leaks, iOS leaks, at least in theory, should be far less frequent given that new features and code should rarely leave the purview of Apple engineers.

And yet, each and every year, new iOS features start making the rounds months before WWDC. This year, of course, has been no different. Over the past few months, a multitude of iOS 14 features have leaked out. From new HomeKit features to new iMessage functionality, it seems that we can’t go a week without seeing new iOS 14 features leaking out.

So just what, exactly, is going on?

Well, VICE is reporting that an early version of iOS 14 was leaked this past February and has since been passed around amongst security researchers, hackers, and others:

Motherboard has not been able to independently verify exactly how it leaked, but five sources in the jailbreaking community familiar with the leak told us they think that someone obtained a development iPhone 11 running a version of iOS 14 dated December 2019, which was made to be used only by Apple developers. According to those sources, someone purchased it from vendors in China for thousands of dollars, and then extracted the iOS 14 internal build and distributed it in the iPhone jailbreaking and hacking community.

Not surprisingly, interest in the leaked build is immense given how much money there is in the realm of iPhone security. And though iOS leaks are par for the course, this case is particularly unusual given that the leaked version of iOS 14 started making the rounds a good 6-7 months before WWDC.

That said, final release versions of iOS are typically a lot different from early developmental builds. So while an early release of iOS 14 managed to make its way online, it stands to reason that the version we see Apple introduce at WWDC next month will, hopefully, still have a few surprises.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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