A bug in iOS is causing multiple downloads of streaming media and potentially costing customers and content providers bandwidth and money.
The flaw, discovered by Public Radio Exchange Labs (PRX), is caused by an issue in iOS 6 Audio Playback frameworks that results in files being downloaded multiple times. However, Apple fixed the bug in iOS 6.0.1 and the 6.1 beta. PRX noticed something was wrong when podcasts like This American Life and The Moth posted curiously high spikes in download traffic. This American Life themselves noticed the change in traffic after receiving unusually high content delivery network bills. PRX thought the introduction of Apples Podcasts app was responsible for the spike, but further testing of the transfer activity in iOS 6 compared to iOS 5 determined that files were being downloaded multiple times.
"The player appears to get into a state where it makes multiple requests per second and closes them rapidly. 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." — PRX
PRX screenshot showing multiple requests in a row.
The bug affects both Apple's Podcasts app and third-party applications indicating the bug is system-wide. PRX isn't positive what causes the bug, but the process itself is very apparent. When a file has completely downloaded, the activity during the test consistently shows that the file will continue to download as long as the user is streaming the file.
While this isn't a system crippling issue, for users without unlimited data plans the additional data usage could result in unwanted data overage charges. User's still running iOS 6 should upgrade to iOS 6.0.1 to avoid the potentially hefty fees. A better question though, will Apple entertain the idea of reimbursing customers who were unknowingly subjected to data overage charges?
Source: AppleInsider, PRX