An early version of iOS 14 has been floating around the internet for months

Security researchers, hackers, and bloggers have had access to an early version of iOS 14 since “at least February,” according to Vice. There have already been many iOS 14 leaks over the past few months, and it seems possible the information came from this early version of the operating system.

Current leaked features for iOS 14 include a new fitness app, a PencilKit API for the company’s stylus, updates to iMessage, a new home screen view, the ability to test third-party apps by scanning a QR code, an overhaul to iCloud Keychain, and more. However, if these leaked features were based on this leaked iOS 14 build from December, there’s always the chance that Apple could delay or scrap any of them before the official unveiling of the new OS.

It’s difficult to say how much the leak will affect the finished iOS 14 release. Apple isn’t expected to preview iOS 14 until WWDC in June, and it’s entirely possible the company has cut or changed features in the past several months. It could likewise be difficult to assess security flaws when they might be fixed by launch. Still, this is unusually early access to the software — this could help with security assessments, but it could also spoil the debut and give hackers more time to find exploits.

The loose code also underscores the challenges Apple has when clamping down on leaks. Like with many companies, its product development depends on a large chain of suppliers and other partners — it only takes one less-than-scrupulous person to reveal secrets. While Apple can take steps to minimize the chances of leaks, it may be difficult to completely avoid breaches like this in the future.

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