Apple did something unique with iOS last year — it gave users a choice when it came to software updates. Now the company has walked back that choice and it’s not clear why.
Ahead of the September 2021 iOS 15 launch, Apple revealed that users would be able to choose to update to iOS 15 or continue receiving “important security updates” on iOS 14. That marked a significant departure from years past, where iPhone users could only update to the latest version to get security updates, or stay on the current version and potentially leave their device vulnerable.
According to 9to5Mac, Apple suddenly stopped making security updates available to people using versions of iOS 14. The last security patch made available for devices not on iOS 15 was iOS 14.8.1, released in October. However, it’s no longer available for people using iOS 14.8 — the only upgrade option is the new iOS 15.2.1 update.
Of course, it could just be a bug. But considering Apple hasn’t made any security patches available to iOS 14 since the 14.8.1 update in October, it seems more likely that the change was intentional. Another possibility is that Apple wasn’t able to bring an important security patch to older versions of iOS, and that’s why the company scrapped the option to stay on iOS 14.
For example, iOS 15.2.1 introduced a fix for a HomeKit vulnerability that would repeatedly freeze and crash devices if users had a smart home gadget with a long name. I’m not sure if that flaw would be big enough to warrant this scale of change, but it did impact iOS versions as far back as iOS 14.7 and possibly further.
9to5 also suggested it could be related to the recently released iOS 15 adoption numbers, which are lower than normal. Maybe Apple decided to remove the option to stay on iOS 14 to bolster iOS 15 downloads.
Whatever the case, if you’ve been holding out on iOS 14 so far, it may be time to bite the bullet and upgrade to iOS 15. It also debunks my theory that the optional update feature hinted at big changes coming in iOS 16.