updated 02:00 am EST, Thu November 15, 2012
Release of iOS 6.0.1 fixed media-stream re-downloading glitch
Users of iOS devices who haven't upgraded from iOS 6.0 to the latest version have another good reason to do so: a bug that was causing previously-unidentified data overages and other issues has been identified, in which an iOS device on iOS 6.0 may re-download media streams over and over, perhaps even while on 3G or LTE connections. The issue, which was fixed in iOS 6.0.1, could conceivably cause users to incur data overage charges. At present, Apple has not claimed responsibility for the bug or any resulting charges.
The flaw, which was discovered by Public Radio Exchange Labs (PRX), a maker of podcasts and podcast apps mostly for shows popular on National Public Radio outlets such as This American Life and The Moth, affected the AV framework of iOS 6.0 (and any apps, including Apple's own Podcasts app, that relied on the frameworks) and caused media streams (such as podcasts or internet radio) to be re-downloaded over and over. The bug created issues both for users and providers. Companies that provide serving of podcast or radio streams were seeing enormous increases in requests for streams, in some cases causing overloads and server crashes.
Some users have reported on various forums that they have been hit with overage charges for the six-week period between the initial release of iOS 6 (September 19) and the update to 6.0.1 (released on November 1), which most users will have upgraded to due to prompts from iOS itself encouraging users to update. The initial release of iOS 6.0 was also followed by reports of mysterious battery drains and even cases of "overheating," both of which could be attributed to the same bug, as it would cause an iOS device to both use more bandwidth and process data far more than it otherwise would. Developers and users who have installed the iOS 6.1 betas also report that the issue is not present, and appears to have been fully corrected with iOS 6.0.1, though PRX says it has only verified this with Wi-Fi connections.
Whether Apple was initially aware of the problem or not, it may still ultimately be on the hook for any charges related to excessive data use by customers if they can show that the cause of the overage was the iOS 6.0 bug. Thus far, Apple hasn't commented on the issue but was made aware of it once the problem was discovered. The cause of the issue was not identified until just recently, weeks after Apple had already fixed the problem -- though some users may not yet have updated their devices.