Monty Icenogle (kd6cae) wrote,
Monty Icenogle

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Annoying T-mobile iPhone issue with some apps

The issue I'm about to discuss is one that I first discovered a few months ago, and the issue was fixed in iOS 10.3, however the problem has fully returned in 10.3.1, which at the time of this writing is the most current version of iOS for the iPhone.
Basically the problem is that on a T-Mobile iPhone, certain apps absolutely refuse to work when connected to the cellular data network, even though the phone is set to allow all apps to use cellular data. The apps load just fine, but when they try to do anything requiring network access, it's as if it's not even on the network, when the phone clearly is on the cellular data network as evidenced by the fact that other apps work with no issues!
Most notably, one of the apps experiencing this annoying issue is called iTeamtalk, a high quality voice chat app. It refuses to connect to any teamtalk server when on Cell data. However, this is not the only app I use that's experiencing this problem. I've discovered at least 3 apps that will not work via T-Mobile cell data. In all cases, the apps act as though they are totally offline and will not connect to anything. For example, the Magic Jack app, an app that allows one to make calls to telephones, will not connect to the magic jack server, and thus cannot register itself to allow the user to place a phone call.
Transmit is another app that won't work via T-Mobile data connection. Transmit is a file transfer client that supports FTP and SFTP file transfers. When trying to connect to any server, be it an FTP or SFTP server, transmit immediately throws an error stating connection timed out or server hung up. It's as though it's not even trying to connect at all. Even stranger still, another app that can do file transfer via SFTP and FTP among others, is file browser, and that app can connect to anything I tell it to when on T-Mobile cellular data without issue! And as if that wasn't strange enough, it gets even weirder! If I enable personal hotspot on my T-Mobile Device, then connect to my T-Mobile hotspot with my Verizon iPhone 7 plus, which has the exact same apps on it, I can use all the apps such as transmit and iTeamtalk via the T-Mobile hotspot with no issues whatsoever! I can also use these apps when directly connected to Verizon's cell data network without any issues of any kind. I want to know what's causing these 3 apps, and possibly more, to simply not work if being used directly on a T-Mobile iPhone on the T-Mobile data network? It makes no sense at all. Why do these apps not work, but others work without problem? When I use cell data, I expect every app I have to not have an issue using cellular data!
This is quite an annoying issue, and since I cannot diagnose the problem any further, I'm unsure if the blame is with T-Mobile or apple. I do know that I'm not the only user experiencing issues with apps refusing to connect to the internet when on T-Mobile data directly! At least 2 other friends of mine in totally different areas of the country are experiencing the same issues as me, and the only common factor is T-Mobile. I'd be curious to know what other apps may not work via T-Mobile directly. The fact that the issue was briefly fixed, then broke again is rather curious as well. Anyone that has thoughts or comments on this I would welcome them.
Tags: t-mobile
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I'm having the exact same problem, and thought you'd like to know that, after speaking with several support agents at Apple, I was today transferred to a senior engineer who gathered a lot of data and is having this issue investigated. (FYI, I have a Sprint iPhone that I brought to T-Mobile - what carrier originally supplied your phone?)

Background info: it took several days of trouble-shooting before I even realized that this wasn't an app problem, as I was only having connectivity issues with FTPManager Pro and had corresponded with that app's creators without anyone being able to figure out what was happening. It was only after installing Transmit as a replacement, and then discovering that THAT app wouldn't connect over the cellular network either, that I realized that this is something more than an app issue, and subsequently found your detailed post here on livejournal.

When I found an FTP app, FTP Client Pro, that does work fine over cellular, I thought I'd try to do some standard troubleshooting procedures. Resetting network settings? Nope. Erasing the whole phone? Nope. At the suggestion of both T-Mobile support and Apple iPhone support, I replaced the SIM card (nope) and put the SIM card in another phone (nope). I did the cleanest reset I could (restoring iOS through iTunes, then loading none of my data and re-downloading only the affected apps... nope, problem still happened.

Apple has scheduled a return call with me on Tuesday to give me a progress report and get any additional information they may need for their investigation, and I'll update this post after that. (By the way, I sent them a link to your post, which they found very useful due to its clarity and the listing of specific apps that suffer from this problem... thank you for taking the time to post this!)
Thank you so very much for posting this. Yet another app that can be added to the list of apps that refuse to work over T-mobile data on an iPhone directly is Echo link, an app for licensed ham radio operators to connect to local repeaters and radios over the Internet using computer or phone.
My iPhone 6S plus is an original T-mobile Device, which is currently locked, as I am still paying it off. The fact that you had a Sprint phone, that you brought to T-mobile obviously proves that it does not matter whether you have a locked or unlocked device, if it is on T-mobile's network, it will encounter this issue. It is rather surprising to me, that this appears to be the only place on the whole Internet where this issue is even being discussed. With the number of apps being affected by this adding up to a few now, i'm really wondering what from a technical standpoint could be causing this. These issues only present themselves on the T-Mobile network, not on my second phone, which is a Verizon phone. I look forward to any further updates anyone has about this, and if we can ever get to the bottom of the issue, I look forward to learning why this has even happened. Keep the discussion going.
I received a call back from Apple, and the message from the software engineers that was relayed to me is this: Apple is not responsible for the functionality of third-party apps. That's right, they're not gonna look into this. In fact, I was actually asked to contact the app developers myself and try to figure out the problem, and then report my findings back to Apple... considering that Apple takes a 30% cut from every App Store sale and is rolling in money, this is not very impressive to say the least.

I am still going to do some more digging (and post my findings here) since I have a personal interest in getting at least some of these apps working. The makers of FTPManager are in Asia and didn't have access to T-Mobile, but Panic (the company behind Transmit) is in the US and I'll contact them next.
I'm disappointed to hear that Apple isn't willing to look into this issue. Clearly this is either an Apple issue, or a T-Mobile issue. I personally want to see transmit work as it should myself as well. If we can figure out why it isn't working, perhaps that will solve the issue of why all the other apps refuse to work as well. So odd and strange. And very unique that it is happening just on T-Mobile data directly.
Below is the response I received from Panic, the makers of Transmit:


You are definitely not the first person I've heard having issues with T-Mobile and LTE.

I've also heard FileExplorer and FTPManager also having a similar problem!

Okay, I'm going to wrap this up and submit it to our engineers and see what we may be able to do. Again, thank you for the feedback and your patience! We may not have an immediate fix, but something else to test with will be helpful I'm sure!
Here's what looks like the answer, from the very end of this page:

Why does one of my apps fail on my iPhone, but work fine on Wi-Fi or with other carriers?

In early 2016, Apple announced that they want to move to a pure IPv6 environment. They let the development community know all apps must be 100% IPv6 complaint by July 2016. In December, 2016, Apple disabled IPv4 Literal translation via an iOS update. This translation would only be used for wireless providors who had pure IPv6 environments. Of the big 4 in the US, T-Mobile is the only one without a dual IPv4/IPv6 environment, so when this change happened, only Apple users who had T-Mobile noticed. Neither Apple nor T-Mobile has commented about this at all. After immense pressure from T-Mobile and it's customers, Apple re-enabled the translation in early February. Unfortunatly, Apple re-introduced this problem in late April when iOS 10.3.1 was launched, and users are once again having this issue. T-Mobile was provided an Apple Configurator profile that they could provide to customers on a case by case basis. This profile will re-enable the translation until the end of 2017. By that time, Apple hopes that the application developers have updated their applications to be more complaint. This problem is not very well documented internally at T-Mobile, so you may have to try multiple times to get tickets opened to get support. @Work Customers can contact their local Account Executive who can enage the National Sales Engineering team, who can provide the file to @Work Customers.
Well when I chatted with T-Mobile recently about this issue, they did provide me with an apple developer article that stated all apps should be IP V6 compliant, but I was never once offered an updated configuration profile. If one is out there, I sure would love to get it! With apps breaking because of this change, this should be better documented! If this is the cause of our issues with various apps, then why isn't this profile being offered to all customers who need it? Why did apple re-enable, but then disable yet again the IP V4 cellular stuff on T-mobile? As far as I'm aware, much of the internet itself is still using IP V4. If you successfully are able to obtain this special T-Mobile configuration profile that will allow IP V4 only apps to work properly on cell data directly again, do tell how you got it. And do continue to share this blog post with anyone that may actually be interested in fixing this situation. And thanks again.
I have yet to hear back from Apple or T-Mobile about the Apple Configurator profile, which is a temporary crutch designed to hold people over while app makers update their apps to conform to Apple's IPv6 requirements. The following three links about iOS' IPv6 transition are very informative:

I sent the last link to Panic, and received the following reply:

"That's good to know and does actually appear to be the issue. This looks like it's being addressed and dropping in the next update to Transmit iOS, which I hope is soon!"

I sent all three links to the makers of FTPManager, who clearly don't understand the issue at this point - we'll see if this helps them "get it" as well. I'd suggest sending at least the last link to the maker of every app that you're having trouble with, as it explains exactly what they need to do to make their apps work on IPv6-only networks (which will become more prevalent as IPv4 is gradually retired).