Apple has released iOS 12.4.1 and it’s essential. The upgrade addresses one of the most serious flaws in recent iOS history, but has Apple continued its red hot streak or does this update break more than it fixes? Here’s everything you need to know…
Who Is It For?
iOS 12.4.1 is compatible with all iOS 12 compatible devices. That means iPhone 5S or later, iPad mini 2 or later and 6th generation iPod touch or later (be warned: iOS 13 will change things). Upgrade notifications should be automatic, but if you haven’t received one go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS 13 beta testers, remember to unroll your devices for iOS 12.4.1 to show up.
At circa 100MB iOS 12.4.1 has a predictably small file size, but don’t let that fool you about its importance.
The Deal Breakers
I’m happy to say: nothing crucial. There are some extremely isolated reports of iOS 12.4.1 stopping apps updating (1,2), but little else. Do remember that problems can be discovered as more devices update (iOS 12.4 is an infamous case in point and the reason iOS 12.4.1 exists) but so far so good.
So What Do You Get?
Given the severity of the issue, bizarrely Apple has chosen to keep things extremely vague only saying iOS 12.4.1 contains “important security and stability updates”. But if you dig down into Apple’s official security page, you get the important bit and the sole contents of the update: “A malicious application may be able to execute arbitrary code with system privileges”.
In plainer English, this vulnerability enabled hackers to remotely jailbreak your iPhones and iPads and install malicious code granting them access to your data. It could even be done via the App Store. So yes, the fix for it in iOS 12.4.1 is a biggie.
Conveniently, Apple also left out that it caused this problem. Having patched the exploit several iOS releases ago, an oversight saw Apple accidentally remove this protection in iOS 12.4. Oops.
Apple iOS 12.4.1 Verdict: Install Now
Forget big feature updates, iOS 12.4.1 is the most important iOS release since the FaceTime debacle. Moreover, with iOS 12.4 uniquely vulnerable and every version of iOS now exploitable via KNOB attacks, iOS 12.4.1 is the only safe place for iPhone and iPad users right now.
Yes, as more users upgrade iOS 12.4.1 bugs may be discovered but the potential of that happening doesn’t equate to the reality of the exposure your devices face right now. Despite this, for those who do hold off, I’ll update this guide should there be any developments (negative or positive) and post a final verdict in a week. So bookmark this page.
The Road Ahead
I expect iOS 12.4.1 to be the final iOS 12 release before iOS 13 arrives in September. With Apple already moving on to beta testing iOS 13.1, an unprecedented step, it shows the company is confident about this next generational upgrade. It all bodes well, but remember: the cut-off point for device support is more brutal this time.