PSA: iOS 16.4 Enables Auto-Installing Software Updates by Default
All iPhone and iPad users should be aware that installing the iOS 16.4 update for iPhone or iPadOS 16.4 update for iPad will enable the system settings for automatically installing and downloading future iOS/iPadOS software updates to that device.
A splash screen noting this change appears right after the update has installed on a device and before it can be used, but since many device users are trained to just mindlessly tap forward on these setup screens, they may miss what exactly is being done on their iPhone or iPad, and the implications of this.
Furthermore, the splash screen on iPhone and iPad gives only two choices; the default is “Continue” which sets the device to both download and install future software updates automatically, or the secondary option to ‘Only Download Automatically’. This is a false choice (and arguably a UX dark pattern), because despite not being listed on this particular setup screen, users can actually choose to manually enable or disable either or both the automatic downloads and installations of future software updates for iOS and iPadOS.
If you wish to determine which setting your device is set to, or change what you set for your iOS and iPadOS updating preferences, you can do so at any time by going to Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates > and deciding which switches to toggle on or off for your particular device.
The third option listed at this settings screen for “Security Response & System Files” is recommended to leave enabled, since most users will want to keep their devices patched from major security flaws or issues on their devices, but of course users can toggle that off as well if desired. Security Response updates are different from standard system software updates, and should not introduce any new features or changes to the system software, aside from patching known vulnerabilities and exploits to the operating system.
While this change appeared with iOS 16.4 and iPadOS 16.4, it is conceivable that future system software updates will push the same changes as well, and you may end up having to frequently make the manual settings adjustment to determine whether or not you want to enable automatic iOS updates on each individual device.
Many iPhone and iPad users do not want to automatically install system software updates for a variety of reasons, whether it’s bandwidth related, compatibility related, or simply wanting to determine when they install updates on their own devices rather than having that decided for them.
Do you use automatic software updates on your iPhone or iPad? What do you think of this feature being turned on automatically and with