When iOS 15 arrived in September, iPhone users had a choice. If they didn’t want to take the plunge just yet, they could remain on iOS 14 and, for the first time, still get regular security updates. With the release of iOS 15.2.1 earlier this week, that no longer seems to be the case.
9to5Mac reports that Apple has pulled the most recent iOS 14.8.1 security update from October and instead only offers iOS 15.2.1 to supported devices. Also, there was no accompanying iOS 14 version of the iOS 15.2 update released in December. It’s unclear why Apple has stopped offering the update, but Software Update now only shows iOS 15 with no iOS 14 option.
Unlike Android phones, which get years of security updates long after they stop receiving version upgrades, all iOS devices able to upgrade to iOS 14 also received the iOS 15 update. But Apple’s surprising move to give people an option appears to have been rescinded. Here’s what Apple said at the time iOS 15 arrived:
iOS may now offer 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.
That wording is still on the iOS 15 features page as well as its support documents, so it’s possible Apple starts releasing iOS 14 updates again. However, it’s also been reported that iOS 15 adoption is slower than previous years, with 63 percent of iOS devices and 57 percent of iPads upgrading to the new OS. That’s noticeably lower than the iOS 14 adoption rate, which was over 80 percent at this time last year. The two things could be related, and Apple’s motivation to pull the iOS 14 updates could very well be related to the lagging numbers.
iOS 15 has already had two updates since its launch, with a third currently in beta. Macworld recommends upgrading to the newest version of iOS 15 now that many of the bugs have been ironed out, but we’re still waiting for some announced features, including ID cards in Wallet and Universal Control on the iPad and Mac.
Apple will still regularly push critical updates to older devices, but if you’ve been holding off on updating to iOS 15, you might not have a choice anymore if you want your device to be up to date with the latest security patches.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.