I just read something well….dry. Mac Surfer lead me to a link about a patent Apple filed to detect abuse on their iPhones and iPod Touchs. Big picture this is to simply help vendors and Apple identify fraudulent claims of faulty equipment. It will be interesting to see how many what sort of impact this has on returns. What really made me wonder was how will jail breaking fit into this scheme.
The system is made to detect when “abuse” happens record the date and time then run a diagnostic to see if any damage happened after it. As specifically stated in the patent the new sensors will detect “a liquid ingress event, a thermal event, a shock event, and a tamper event”. The easy to interpret are the first three. Liquid ingress is what would bust you should you drop your phone in a bucket of water or the toilet. Thermal event is that nice hot day in the summer when you leave your phone in the car. Shock events absolutely must be the most common as this is what they call dropping your phone but what exactly is a “tamper event”.
I can easily see Apple stating jail breaking is a “tamper event” as it goes against the intended use of the phone. In the patent it is defined as “any interaction with the device that is not related to operating the device in a normal manner (e.g., opening the casing or housing of a device and adding, removing, or altering the internal components).” Each time they talk about the “event” it refers to altering the hardware but don’t let this give you to much hope. Their is of course a loophole clause stating “but certainly should not be construed as being limited to these aforementioned examples.”
The next super technical question that must be answered is what is “operating the device in a normal manner”. The phone it self has certain limitations and functions it is capable of but these far exceed that of the OS or more accurately the even stricter limitations Apple superficially imposes on the OS itself. My hope is the sensors are only made for extreme cases that will actually damage the hardware itself and not be tune-able so the settings can be changed at the whim of a software developer.
The worst part is yet to come though because slipped in with all this is something that really bothers me. The sensors will have the ability to tell the phone to turn itself off when it comes back from an abuse event and tell the user to take it in for service even though it still works. This puts you in a quandary if you had jail broken your phone willing to accept the consequences of voiding your warranty but now you take a shower set off a moisture sensor and the phone shuts down even though it should still be working. It may be just the pessimist in me but I see this as a way to drive revenue rather than being used judiciously.