Apple iOS 10.3.1: Should You Upgrade?

Apple AAPL +0.38% spent two months and issued no less than 7 betas testing iOS 10.3, but just seven days later iOS 10.3.1 is here and it is dedicated to bug fixes and security patches. So should you be skeptical or is this an essential upgrade?

Here’s everything you need to know…

Who Is iOS 10.3.1 For?

 Apple AAPL +0.38% spent two months and issued no less than 7 betas testing iOS 10.3, but just seven days later iOS 10.3.1 is here and it is dedicated to bug fixes and security patches. So should you be skeptical or is this an essential upgrade?

Here’s everything you need to know…

Who Is iOS 10.3.1 For?

iOS 10.3.1 works on all iOS 10 compatible devices: the iPhone 5 or later, iPad 4 or later and the 6th generation iPod touch or later. You can manually trigger the update to iOS 10.3.1 by going to Settings > General > Software Update, but you should be notified automatically.

iOS 10.3.1 has one of the smallest file sizes in recent iOS history coming in at well under 30MB

The Deal Breakers

Jailbreakers, you know the drill: iOS 10.3.1 will break any jailbroken devices. So if you’re passionate about the additional control jailbreaking provides, you’ll have to stay away.

And yes the 30% Battery Bug still hasn’t been fully addressed according to messages I’ve received from affected users. This despite Apple’s protestations that it was fixed in iOS 10.2.1.

 

Elsewhere Apple’s official Support Communities website has isolated reports of upgraders suffering Touch ID failures, emails not downloading and that iOS 10.3.1 doesn’t address the 5GHz WiFi bug some users have been experiencing for some time now. But nothing has significant traction at this point.

So What Do You Get?

Apple iOS 10.3.1 is a ‘minor point upgrade’ which means no new features. In fact Apple didn’t even include its customary release notes with this upgrade, only going so far as to say: “iOS 10.3.1 includes bug fixes and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad.”

More information can be gleaned from Apple’s iOS 10.3.1 security page, however, which explains a fix for a serious WiFi exploit which could enable a hacker to take control of your phone by executing arbitrary code. As has been the case with a number of iOS security flaws, this one was again found by Google’s Project Zero security analysts team – showing these two companies don’t spend all their time fighting.

In addition to this AppleInsider notes that iOS 10.3 was pulled shortly after release for iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C handsets, and did not reappear. But given iOS 10.3.1 works well on both devices it appears that whatever the problem was has been addressed. Don’t expect iOS support to continue much longer for these 32-bit iPhones though, as iOS is moving towards a 64-bit only future.

Apple iOS 10.3.1 Install Verdict: Cautious Thumbs Up

Coming off the back of the impressive iOS 10.3 upgrade which introduced the all-new Apple File System, iOS 10.3.1 is clearly a lot less exciting. If you work in a high security environment then you should update immediately given the exploits it fixes, but everyday users can afford to take another 24/48 hours and wait for the dust to settle and any potential show-stopping bugs to appear. You’re not missing any new features or functionality.

The Road Ahead

Apple is already testing iOS 10.3.2 and beta one is a week old. As another ‘minor point update’ it also is expected to focus on fixes not features, so there’s hope it might finally address the WiFi and battery bugs which have plagued affected users for many months.

Further down the horizon, the next big upgrade will be iOS 10.4 but given that has not entered public testing yet I expect a formal release to still be a few months away. With new iPad Pros in the pipeline, this may well be a fairly tablet-centric upgrade. In the meantime, if you haven’t upgraded to iOS 10.3 this is why it’s essential.