Apple is Not Disabling Non-Developer Devices with iOS 5. Here's What's Really Happening

Rumor: Apple is disabling non-developers iDevices running iOS5 beta versions. Truth: iOS 5 beta 1 and 2 expired last night – disabling those devices until they are upgraded.

Last night at 6pm PT, my decidedly non-developer iPhone running the iOS 5 beta 1 suddenly reset and went back into the activation mode, but wouldn’t allow me to set it up again. Once plugged into iTunes, my computer told me that the operating system on my phone was outdated and needed to be updated. That’s what I did, then restored from backup and things went back to normal (after a few tense moments during which I thought my phone had indeed become a very expensive paperweight).

What Really Happened: The Early iOS 5 Betas Expired Last Night

Fast forward to today and suddenly lots of rumors are flying around (and getting re-reported without much extra thought) that Apple is supposedly cracking down on those folks who are running non-developer devices running the iOS 5 betas. That’s simply not the case. What’s simply happening here is that the early beta versions of iOS 5 expired last night. There is nothing more nefarious going on here than that.

As I reported early this year, though, no other beta version of iOS was ever as widely installed as this one, as rogue activation services now make it very easy for anybody to get a phone’s (or iPod touch’s) UDID activated by a developer who wants to make some extra money.

That’s exactly what happened here as well. Chances are that most of the devices that reset yesterday were owned by users who paid between $5 and $10 to one of these developers (Apple gives 100 activation slots to every registered developer). Those users – just like me – were also less likely to install any of the subsequent beta versions on their phones. After all, you can never be quite sure if Apple didn’t figure out what was going on and kill those developers’ accounts, leaving you with the hassle of downgrading your phone.

How to Reactivate a “Bricked” iOS 5 Beta Phone

Now, if you installed iOS 5 using the trick that quickly made the rounds just after the release of the first beta and completely bypassed the UDID activation service, you are likely out of luck. You will have to put your phone into DFU mode and downgrade to iOS 4 again. Otherwise, just download the iOS 5 beta 3 or 4, restore your phone with it and you’ll be good to go (assuming Apple didn’t deactivate the account of the friendly developer who sold you your activation – in that case, just downgrade to iOS 4 as well).

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