Apple recently released iOS 11.2.1 very quickly after the absurdly rushed iOS 11.2. While iOS 11.2 added important new features, it caused numerous problems and now iOS 11.2.1 is here to try and fix some of them. Does it succeed and should you upgrade? It depends
Who Is New Update For?
Like every iOS 11 release, iOS 11.2.1 is compatible with the iPhone 5S or later, iPad mini 2 or later and 6th generation iPod touch or later.
An automatic notification will prompt you to upgrade to iOS 11.2.1, but if you haven’t received this for any reason it can be manually triggered by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Remember Apple iOS beta testers, you may have to unroll your device for the update to appear.
All iOS updates vary in size (different features/patches apply to different devices) but iOS 11.2.1 is on the smaller side at roughly 70MB. If you have yet to update to iOS 11, however, note that iOS 11.2.1 will be rolled up into a large singular upgrade listed as ‘iOS 11’ and your device will be on iOS 11.2.1 when the installation is finished.
What For Jailbreakers
First, the obligatory jailbreak warning. While Google has actually publicised a vulnerability which allows previous iOS 11 versions to be jailbroken, iOS 11.2.1 is not one of them. It will also break any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch which is already jailbroken. So steer clear if you’re one of the (increasingly niche) users who remain passionate about jailbreaking their device.
And what about stability? Well, the biggest problem since the launch of iOS 11 has been battery life. But the interesting early take on iOS 11.2.1 is that some have found battery life has significantly improved, this despite no fix being specifically listed in the release notes (more in the next section). That said for others the horror story continues so your mileage may vary. There are also isolated reports of lag, instability, various app crashes, lost contacts and some data issues.
So What’s The Deal with this Update?
Unlike iOS 11.2, the smaller iOS 11.2.1 adds no new features and has been quickly rolled out specifically to fix bugs introduced in the previous release (yes, this has become something of a vicious circle). As such Apple’s release notes simply state:
“iOS 11.2.1 fixes bugs including an issue that could disable remote access to shared users of the Home app”
Short and sweet. The good news is this fix seems to work. But, as always, Apple is playing coy. There’s also a secret fix in iOS 11.2.1 for the camera blur bug iOS 11.2 introduced for some iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus users and – potentially – under the hood battery tweaks given the positive responses I’m seeing from some users online.
Why doesn’t Apple declare every fix in every iOS update? Because declaring every fix means acknowledging every bug. It’s smart marketing.
Meanwhile, Apple’s official security page confirms iOS 11.2.1 contains nothing new. This isn’t surprising since security updates are usually issued every 6-8 weeks and Apple is pushing iOS updates at a rate of almost once a week at present.
Final Verdict, Should you install it or not
At this point, the happiest iOS users who contact me are running iOS 10 (specifically iOS 10.3.3, the last release, which is rock solid). In fact, one user delighted in telling me his iPhone 6 still runs like new because he has stuck with iOS 9!
Consequently, my feelings towards iOS 11.2.1 are that those already running a version of iOS 11 should upgrade. If you have battery issues there’s a chance iOS 11.2.1 may deliver tangible improvements based on early reports, though if you’ve been lucky enough to avoid them so far there’s nothing much in iOS 11.2.1 which should tempt you to gamble with your device this time.
Meanwhile, for iOS 10 (and happy iOS 9!) users with perfectly functioning devices, there’s simply no need to jump on this if you haven’t been tempted by previous updates.
Meanwhile looking at iOS 11 more widely, Apple’s trend of pushing out iOS updates almost weekly clearly isn’t a sensible strategy long term. The company is essentially caught on a hamster wheel right now rushing out updates to fix problems which in turn cause problems which require more rushed out updates.
Android may be ridiculed for its fragmentation, but there’s something in it which Apple could learn from. Android is a highly modular operating system and almost every part of it (from the keyboard, maps, and browser to accessibility features and connectivity services) is in the Play Store. So even if you don’t have the latest version of Android you have access to the latest features and any app-specific bugs can be quickly rolled out in the Play Store.
Quite frankly, that’s a better (and less disruptive) system than Apple forcing a full iOS upgrade every time there’s a ridiculous typing bug or, in this case, a problem with the Home app. Both iOS and Android must learn from each other. There’s more to keeping an operating system up to date than version numbers.
Coinciding with the release iOS 11.2.1, Apple has launched a new iOS beta but it comes with a surprising version number: iOS 11.2.5. No reason has been given why Apple has skipped iOS 11.2.2, iOS 11.2.3 and iOS 11.2.4. It could be a larger update, but Apple rarely uses ‘minor point’ upgrades for such things and it seems to be expected in iOS 11.3.