iOS 9.1: Worth Upgrading?

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iOS 9.1 Security Updates

iOS 9.1 contains numerous security updates. This is a major reason to upgrade, if you have already made the transition to iOS 9. Some of the patched vulnerabilities are quite serious. For example, visiting a malicious website could cause arbitrary code execution. Apple’s official security content notes are always an interesting read. They give credit where it is due, and most of these flaws are not found by Apple.

Google’s project Zero always finds a few flaws. Professors, security experts, jailbreak coders, and companies like Yahoo also find some flaws. You don’t hear about these problems because Apple and others keep them secret so they won’t be exploited.

Unfortunately, these fixes are not applied to older Apple products which have still not reached end-of-life. For example, my old iPhone 4 doesn’t get any updates, not even for security. It is still a supported product, even though it can’t run iOS 8 or above. The iPhone 4 is old, but keep in mind, they were still selling them up until last year. Apple stopped selling the iPhone 4 in India in the middle of 2014. There are people around the world who have bought new iPhone 4’s and these are not being patched with security updates.

Apple will gladly sell apps to iPhone 4 users. They just won’t offer security fixes. While it is true that some of these fixes are specific to newer aspects of iOS, some of these flaws have been in Apple’s mobile operating system for years.

I still use my old iPhone 4 for Spotify, which frees up my iPhone 6 for gaming. My iPhone 4 still holds a full charge and, on iOS 7, is almost as fast as my iPhone 6 running iOS 8.4.1. I think Apple needs to take accountability and offer security patches for older iOS devices. Apple is a huge corporation and it doesn’t take dozens of developers, QA testers and release engineers to apply, test and release these patches. This would foster brand loyalty.

My Apple TV 2 crashes 1-5 times a night and there hasn’t been an update in almost 18 months. They continue to push channels to this device, because services like HBO and Showtime are profitable.

Apple continually offers security updates for older Mac OS X operating systems. Apple should make this a uniform policy, if they are really interested in fostering brand loyalty. Perhaps you sell your old device and get the new Apple gadget every year. Someone ends up with your old iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple TV. These devices should be secure and stable.

iOS 9.1 Problems

iOS 9.1 is an improvement on iOS 9, but it leaves some major defects and introduces some new problems. iOS web browsers are still hopelessly buggy. When I visit major websites, I often experience browser crashes. This happens about 20% of the time. It’s an exceptionally high failure rate. It doesn’t matter which browser I use, as they all must use WebKit. I am starting to wonder if this is an intentional strategy to make browsers unusable, in order to steer people into using apps. (continue…)

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