When Apple released iOS 15 last fall, iPhone users got a bunch of new and improved features including support for portrait mode and spatial audio in Facetime calls, Focus modes for reduced distractions, and the ability to detect and interact with text in photos thanks to Live Text.
But last year Apple also offered folks who weren’t ready to upgrade another option: stick with iOS 14 and continue receiving security updates. And that worked… until it didn’t.
The last security update released for iOS 14 was iOS 14.8.1, which was made available October 26, 2021. But last week some folks noticed that Apple had stopped offering folks running older builds of iOS 14 an option to upgrade to version 14.8.1. Want the latest security fixes? Then you’ll need to upgrade to iOS 15 to get them.
Ars Technica reached out to Apple for comment and received confirmation that this isn’t a bug – the company says the security updates were supposed to be a temporary option, which… fair enough. I don’t think anybody expected them to be available forever. But it seems like they were only available for a few months, which is a little surprising, especially since Apple never said anything about how long it would continue offering updates until after it had stopped (and after someone specifically reached out to ask the company).
In fact, if you visit Apple’s iOS 15 features page, there’s still a Software Updates section that reads “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.”
Here’s a screenshot from January 19, 2021 in case that text does change at a later time:
Given that every time Apple rolls out a new version of iOS, complaints will inevitably arise that it makes some older phones feel slower, I suspect some folks were happy to have the option of skipping this upgrade. But it looks like that option just got more complicated: you can still avoid updating your phone, but you shouldn’t expect any more security updates. And that could eventually leave your phone vulnerable to malware.