The fifth iteration of iOS is almost here, but some people just can’t wait for it. At WWDC 2011, Apple gave developers access to the newest iOS betas. However, some developers took this as an opportunity to earn some extra pocket change by selling slots to people for early access. Basically, the iOS 5 beta, whether found on some file sharing site or passed on to you by a developer, will verify with Apple whether you’re allowed to run the beta before letting you use it. Each registered developer can allow 100 devices to run the beta by registering the device’s identification number (UDID) with their account. These are the spots they would sell. Now, Apple is cracking down.

Some surprised developers have been reporting that they are receiving emails from Apple warning them that they’ve been identified as a seller of slots to users for early access to iOS 5. Apple has also begun displaying more aggressive messages on the iOS developer portal reminding users that sharing this information is in violation of the NDA they signed with Apple and could get them sued. They didn’t stop there, but are now closing down developer accounts that are sharing the beta files and flagging their UDIDs (device identifiers associated with accounts) thereby making their iDevices running iOS 5 inactive and unusable.

If you purchased access to iOS 5 illegitimately and your “dealer” gets caught, you might have a very unpleasant surprise. However, this is a very extreme example. A lot of people saw their device locked yesterday, but the reason was that iOS 5 beta 1, and 2 expired. That is, Apple only allows beta versions of iOS to run for a specific amount of time. By now, you’re supposed to have updated to iOS 5 beta 3 or 4. If you were running an old version and your phone won’t work, that’s why.

Furthermore, it’s important to point out that only developers that are advertising online that they sell UDIDs can be caught. If a friend, or other honest developer activated your device for you, or is selling access discreetly enough so that Apple can’t find them online or on eBay, there is virtually no way for Apple to know about it, despite what some sites might be reporting.

If your device has been remotely locked down by Apple, the phone enters intial setup mode and asks you to connect to a Wi-Fi network and that’s it. Your phone will be stuck like that. The only way to correct this is by downgrading your device to iOS 4.x, or updating to a newer beta (given that your UDID is still verified and that you have access to it). Luckily, we have you covered with step-by-step instructions for the procedure.

I won’t ask you to comment if you have received such an email because that would just be self incriminating, right?