Apple users: Here’s why you should always manually update your iPhone

Many people, myself included, care about iPhone security. That’s why security-conscious iPhone users turn on iOS’s automatic updates option.

But you may have noticed that despite turning on automatic iOS updates, your iPhone takes days or weeks to update to the latest operating system. Why is it?

This was the subject of an email question posed by iPhone user Mateusz Buda, who wrote to Apple’s Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi and shared the answer via Reddit. .

In his response, Federighi explained how the iPhone maker gradually rolls out new iOS updates “first making them available to those who explicitly search for them in Settings and then 1-4 weeks later (after we have received feedback on the update) speed up the deployment of devices with automatic updating enabled.”

In other words, according to Federighi, Apple likes to wait until all bugs are reported and fixed before pushing iOS updates to devices. There’s another obvious reason: by making sure not everyone is updating their iPhones at the same time, it avoids overloading Apple’s servers every time an iOS upgrade is released.

Frustrated iPhone users

While this all makes sense, it’s still frustrating for many iPhone users who want or need to prioritize security upgrades. Apple recently patched several issues that have already been used to attack iPhones, for example in iOS 15.4.1 and iOS 15.3.1. It’s a shame we can’t trust automatic updates to be instantaneous, and that puts Apple users in a similar position to those on Google’s Android operating system.

This also comes with another iPhone security issue: Apple recently stopped updating iOS 14 with important security patches. Therefore, you must be on the latest version to ensure that your iPhone is not vulnerable.

Not having automatic iOS updates also means you have to wait longer for features like the ability to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask.

Why iOS Updates Should Be Instant and What to Do About It

I think iPhone updates should be instantaneous, and the experts agree. Independent security researcher Sean Wright says he “understands the logic” behind Apple’s approach. However, “it carries the risk of luring its users into a false sense of security”.

“Ideally, automatic should mean instant,” says Jake Moore, Global Cybersecurity Advisor at ESET. “Without an immediate automatic update, a device may be vulnerable for an unnecessary period of time, putting both the iPhone and its owner at risk. Early adopters will always seek immediate releases and updates at the earliest opportunity, but leaving other iPhones for weeks to fend for themselves when a vulnerability is known could be potentially dangerous.

With that in mind, Wright thinks Apple should “include some kind of disclaimer telling users there’s a one to four week delay in rolling out automatic updates.”

An even better approach would be an opt-in option allowing users to choose to receive updates as they become available, Wright suggests.

Apple could also send a pop-up to iPhones telling people an update is available, especially if it’s an important security patch.

Unfortunately, the lack of automatic iPhone updates makes checking for updates manually a no-brainer. For optimal security, iPhone users should closely monitor iOS updates via Settings > General > Software Updates, and via My Stories using the blue “Track” button at the top right of this article or on my Forbes profile.

It’s not a perfect solution, but being proactive is the best way to keep your iPhone safe.

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