Editor's take: It’s difficult to say just how much of an impact the leak will have on the final product, good or bad. Having leaked so early, it’s almost a certainty that Apple has added some new features and cut others since December. And while hackers are having more time with this version than any other to hunt for vulnerabilities, Apple no doubt has moles within the community that monitor for such discoveries and could get a jump on fixing them before a public release.
Apple has historically kept a tight lid on hardware and software during development. Such secrecy is needed to protect its IP from the competition and makes the eventual unveiling all the more special for the audience.
Occasionally, however, things slip through the cracks and beyond Apple’s control. It happened in 2010 when a prototype iPhone 4 found its way to Gizmodo months before Apple’s reveal and according to Motherboard, the cycle is now repeating itself albeit on the software side.
The publication claims that hackers and security researchers have had access to an early build of iOS 14, the mobile operating system that Apple is expected to unveil at WWDC next month, since at least February.
Multiple sources in the jailbreaking community told the publication that they believe someone obtained a developer version of the iPhone 11 running a build of iOS 14 dated December 2019. The general consensus is that this mystery person bought the device from a vendor in China for “thousands of dollars” then extracted the iOS 14 build and shared it online with enthusiasts.
According to at least one anonymous source, this is the earliest that a version of iOS has leaked in advance of its release.