Apple iOS 16.1 Release: Should You Upgrade?

Tech Industry

iOS 16.1 is finally here. This is Apple’s first major feature update for iOS 16, comes with critical security updates, and coincides with the long-awaited launch of iPadOS 16.1. So what do you get, and is the iOS 16 bug-fest finally under control? Here’s everything you need to know.

Tip: bookmark this page because I will keep it up-to-date if/when new problems are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week.

Who Is It For?

Apple iOS 16.1 has been released for all iOS 16 compatible devices; that’s the iPhone 8/iPhone X and newer. iOS 16 dropped support for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 ranges, as well as the iPod Touch.

With Apple admitting to auto-update delays, you can trigger the update manually if you have not received a notification. Navigate to Settings > General > Software Update. If you are running newer beta software (see ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your device before the update appears.

Note: this guide is not focused on older iOS updates, iPadOS or macOS, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides. You can read my iOS 15.7 Upgrade Guide here.

The Deal Breakers

The first 24 hours for iOS 16.1 have been largely positive. Notably, the update has introduced a graphical glitch for some users that causes cellular and WiFi icons to disappear and reappear at random (1,2,3,4 etc).

Further graphical glitches are reported on the lock screen with flashlight and camera buttons missing, and the frustrating copy/paste permissions bug from earlier iOS 16 updates still remains (Apple has promised a fix, but it is not listed in the iOS 16.1 release notes).

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I have also seen isolated reports of issues with Back Tap and password management while complaints persist about battery drain — which has plagued iOS 16 since its release. That said, iPhones have to reindex after updates, which causes higher battery drain for 24/48 hours, so it is too early to call this out definitively.

So What Do You Get?

iOS 16.1 is a major update, with Apple publishing lengthy release notes:

iCloud Shared Photo Library

– Separate library for seamlessly sharing photos and videos with up to five other people

– Setup rules allow you to easily contribute past photos based on start date or people in the photos when you set up or join a library

– Library filters for quickly switching between viewing the Shared Library, your Personal Library, or both libraries together

– Shared edits and permissions let everyone add, edit, favorite, caption, and delete photos

– Sharing toggle in Camera lets you choose to send photos you take straight to the Shared Library, or enable a setting to share automatically when other participants are detected nearby using Bluetooth

Live Activities

– Live Activities from third party apps are available in the Dynamic Island and on the Lock Screen for iPhone 14 Pro models

Fitness+

– Apple Fitness+ is supported on iPhone even if you don’t have an Apple Watch

Wallet

– Key sharing enables you to securely share car, hotel room, and other keys in Wallet using messaging apps such as Messages and WhatsApp

Home

– Matter, the new smart home connectivity standard, is supported enabling a wide variety of smart home accessories to work together across ecosystems

Clean Energy Charging

– New setting that can try to reduce your carbon footprint by selectively charging when lower carbon emission electricity is available

Books

– Reader controls are automatically hidden as you start reading

This update also includes bug fixes for your iPhone:

– Deleted conversations may appear in the conversations list in Messages

– Dynamic Island content is not available when using Reachability

– CarPlay may fail to connect when using a VPN app

iCloud Shared Photo Library is the biggest feature here, allowing up to six people to share a single Photo Library, a boon for family and close friends. Sharing for Apple Wallet also removes similar organizational headaches.

Also worth mentioning are the new customization options for the (troubled) iOS 16 lock screen, Fitness+ for iPhones, and ‘Clean Energy Charging,’ which selectively charges your iPhone/iPad when low(er) carbon emission electricity is available. In a new support document, Apple says this feature is currently limited to the US and requires Location Services, System Customization, and Significant Locations to be enabled in the System Services section of the Settings app.

iOS 16.1 Security

Apple’s official security page reveals that iOS 16.1 contains 20 dedicated security fixes. The standout is CVE-2022-42827 which patches a Zero Day memory vulnerability. Apple explains that hackers could have potentially exploited this to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges.

It is currently unclear whether this bug affects older iPhones and iPads or older versions of iOS. I have contacted Apple and will update this post when/if I receive an answer.

Apple iOS 16.1 Verdict: Upgrade

For iPhone owners already running iOS 16, updating to iOS 16.1 is a no-brainer. The update brings a lot of useful, new features and critical security updates. The first 24 hours are also promising, though cautious updaters may wish to wait for my final verdict in a week.

As for those running iOS 15, it looks like iOS 16.1 may finally present you with a stable update opportunity, minor graphical glitches aside. The one disappointment is the lack of fixes for ongoing issues with iOS 16, including the copy/paste bug, but expect more dedicated bug fixes in the coming weeks.

Note: bookmark this page because I will track user experiences and deliver my final verdict in a week.

The Road Ahead

While iOS 16.1 is shaping up to be the most stable iOS 16 release so far, there are still plenty of bugs to be squashed. As such, I would expect iOS 16.1.1. to come quickly, followed by iOS 16.1.2 and even iOS 16.1.3 before the arrival of iOS 16.2 in late 2022/early 2023. If you want early access to iOS 16 updates, join the Apple Beta Software Program.

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