On April 5, Apple acknowledged via a support document that it “will be changing the behavior of VPN On Demand for iOS devices using iOS 6.1 and later” due to a lawsuit by patent holding firm VirnetX file against Apple in November 2011. VPN technology, which stands for Virtual Private Networking, extends corporate networks securely across public networks like the Internet, allowing users to access a private network as if they were directly connected to it.
Apple originally planned to remove the ‘Always’ configuration option for VPN On Demand with the ‘Establish if needed’ option. The revised document specifically mentions Apple will not be changing the VPN behavior on “devices that have already been shipped”…
A revised support document reads:
Apple no longer plans to change the behavior of the VPN On Demand feature of iOS 6.1 for devices that have already been shipped. The “Always” option will continue to work as it currently does on these devices.
As MacRumors speculates, the mention of “devices that have already been shipped” leaves room for interpretation that it may make changes to devices that have yet to ship.
A federal jury in November 2012 ordered Apple to pay $368.2 million to VirnetX in damages.
But as the two parties later worked out a royalty deal, it’s fairly possible that Apple’s backtracking on the previously announced VPN changes in iOS is a direct result of the two sides possibly reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.