PSA: You don’t have to upgrade to iOS 15

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Andrew Cunningham

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Following the announcement at WWDC earlier this year and the customary public beta period, Apple today releases iOS and iPadOS 15 to the public. The new software will run on every single iPhone and iPad that can run iOS or iPadOS 14, going all the way back to the 2014 iPad Air 2 and 2015’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

Normally, this would mean the end of iOS 14. If Apple patched a major zero-day security vulnerability in iOS next week, in years past you’d have to move to iOS 15 so you could fix the rest of its features. Or not. But from this year it is not so. For the first time ever, if you want to put off iOS 15 updates for a few weeks or months, you can do so without missing out on important security updates. That’s because Apple plans to continue rolling out updates for iOS 14—not just for older devices, but for any phone or tablet running iOS 14 or iPadOS 14.


This updated policy change brings iOS and iPadOS closer to macOS. Apple provides feature updates for the latest macOS release and critical security updates for the last two macOS versions, for a total of three macOS releases at once. Apple isn’t committed to the same policy with iOS (and the macOS policy isn’t really spelled out anywhere, as Microsoft does for its software releases), but the security update for another version of iOS is an improvement, too. .

Apple will continue to release security updates for iOS 14, at least for now.

There are many reasons why you might not want to install the x.0 version of a new operating system the day it comes out. Apple’s major software updates are usually tied to the set-in-stone September launch window for new iPhones, and early versions may include major bugs that Apple couldn’t fix before the time the software was shipped. You may be concerned about the performance of the new software on your older device (although it’s been years since a new version of iOS made older devices feel unbearably slow, which is one reason why we’re still stuck on older devices). iOS 15 like we usually do) Or, you might want to wait for apps you rely on to update to the new OS, just in case someone from Apple Changes also break critical functionality.

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This policy change will also extend the life of devices that cannot be upgraded to the latest version of iOS or iPadOS. You may not realize it, but for the past two years Apple has been quietly releasing security-only iOS 12 updates for the 2013 iPhone 5S, iPad Air and iPad mini 2, as well as the 2014 iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus . None of these devices made the cutoff for iOS 13, but those who didn’t need to or couldn’t buy a new device can use them without worrying about breaking core functionality or putting their data at additional risk. could continue to use. This is a responsible move on the part of a company that already provides more software support than the best Android phone makers for years.

We’ll see if this affects the adoption rate of newer iOS versions and how aggressively Apple tries to get people to upgrade from iOS 14 to iOS 15 as time goes on. On a Mac, the first update offered to you on older versions of macOS is an upgrade to the next version, provided your Mac supports it—you must click the “Other Updates” button to see available security updates for Mojave or Catalina. have to click. .

After all, if you can install iOS 15, you’ll probably want to. There are always a few features worth upgrading to FaceTime screen sharing, the iPad home screen widget, or even the new emoji. And you won’t be able to run iOS 14 forever; Apple will eventually stop updating it, and third-party apps may also stop supporting it as their developers shift their attention to iOS 15 and newer releases. It’s good to have the option of waiting a little longer if you want to skip the bugs and teething issues that come with most new operating systems.

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