If you rely on your iPhone’s “Automatic Updates” feature to download and install new versions of iOS for you, you’ll have to wait a while for the next update. You might not notice it until someone sends you an emoji you can’t see, or you’re taunted by that red popup in Settings letting you know a new version is available. It begs the question: Why doesn’t your iPhone automatically install new updates as soon as Apple releases them?
On iPhone, a software update means more than just new features. Unlike other platforms, Apple doesn’t separate its feature updates from its security patches, but combines them into a single install. That makes every new version of iOS important to download as soon as possible from a security perspective. For example the latest iOS update, iOS 15.5, 27 patches for security vulnerabilities introduced discovered in earlier software versions.
Apple releases new software updates for compatible iPhones to everyone around the same time: in theory, you can install a new update as soon as it’s released to the iOS community, but the Automatic Updates feature will slow you down.
Why Apple waits to automatically install updates on iPhone
It turns out that’s on purpose. According to Craig Federighi, senior VP of software engineering at Apple, the company will wait one to four weeks before rolling out new updates to users who have enabled Automatic Updates. The idea here is to make sure there are no glaring bugs in the software that would negatively impact millions of people’s iPhones. If such a bug was discovered, Apple could undock the update early, limiting collateral damage and patching the bug to re-release the update at a later date.
Of course, this strategy is not the only one used to eradicate bugs. Every version of iOS is the first pass beta testing before the general public ever sees it. Beta testers, both developers and public testers, install the early version of the software on their devices and report any issues to Apple. Betas often go through multiple versions before being released because Apple uses testers’ feedback to improve the experience.
While beta testing is essential for developing general-purpose software, the pool of testers isn’t large enough to find all the major bugs. While anyone has the option to manually download a new update when it becomes available, much of the community simply won’t, either because they have Automatic Updates enabled or because they don’t bother in the first place. to update.
That gives Apple the opportunity to conduct an unofficial second round of “testing”: If everything runs smoothly after a week, the company will start rolling out the update to those with Automatic Updates enabled. That rollout will increase over time, resulting in 100% availability after four weeks.
The fastest way to install a new iOS update on your iPhone
Unfortunately, there is no way to increase your place in the automatic line: when Apple decides to roll out the update to your device, it will automatically update. If you want to make sure that your iPhone is always fully updated, you need to manually check for new updates and install them yourself. To do this, you can go to Settings > General > Software Updates†
If you’re sticking to automatic updates, make sure both “Download iOS Updates” and “Install iOS Updates” are enabled under Settings > General > Software Updates > Automatic Updates† The first only downloads new updates to your iPhone, but doesn’t install them until you do it yourself. In that case, it doesn’t matter when Apple rolls out the automatic update to your iPhone – it will wait forever for you to do anything.
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