01/20 Update: Apple today told Ars Technica that it only ever intended to provide iOS 14 security updates for “a period of time”. The company has also published an updated support page clarifying this language. While users now have more certainty, there is no doubt that Apple has either a) deviated from its original intention, or b) used needlessly misleading language in its original promise. With significantly fewer users upgrading to iOS 15 than iOS 14 at the same stage, my guess this represents a change of policy. It’s a shame, but at least the timing is good because in iOS 15.2.1 we finally have a very stable iOS 15 release.
What Apple gives, Apple can take away. This is the message today after the company U-turned on an iPhone update pledge that is likely to anger millions of users.
Just three months after Apple broke new ground by pledging to continue security updates for iPhone owners who preferred to remain on iOS 14, that promise has been broken. Back when iOS 15 launched, Apple boasted:
“iOS now offers a choice between two software update versions in the Settings app. You can update to the latest version of iOS 15 as soon as it’s released for the latest features and most complete set of security updates. Or continue on iOS 14 and still get important security updates until you’re ready to upgrade to the next major version.”
This was a huge deal for both businesses and cautious upgraders alike and a credit to Apple, especially given the iOS 15 launch was a dumpster fire. In practice, the implementation was simple: a footnote at the bottom of each iOS 15 software update gave users the option to remain on iOS 14 with Apple releasing a security-focused update (iOS 14.8.1) straight out of the gate. But no more.
As spotted by developer DhinakG, Apple quietly removed the option to remain on iOS 14.8.1 with the release of iOS 15.2. Many considered this a bug, but the option was again missing with the release of iOS 15.2.1 and Apple has now removed the iOS 14.8.1 as well. Now every iPhone owner is being pushed to install iOS 15.2.1, no matter which version of iOS they are running.
While the U-turn is a shock, some might even argue a betrayal given the original pledge came just three months ago, the signs had been on the wall. In my iOS 15.2.1 review, I said iPhone owners still on iOS 14 had been given a “raw deal” by Apple and lamented the “neglectful lack of iOS 14 updates”. Now we know why.
The good news is iOS 15.2.1 provides the most stable iOS 15 experience yet. The bad news is Apple’s long history of under promising and over delivering just came to a dismal end.
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