Apple iOS 14.4.1 has been released and, with iOS 14.5 close to launch, its arrival is something of a surprise. But this sudden launch is also what makes this an important upgrade for iPhone and iPad (iPadOS) users alike. Here’s everything you need to know. 

Who Is It For?

Apple iOS 14.4.1 has been released for all iOS 13-compatible devices. This means the iPhone 6S and newer and 7th generation iPod touch. If you don’t receive an automatic update notification, you can trigger the update manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running a later version of iOS 14 when you read this (see ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your iPhone before iOS 14.4.1 will show up.

iPad owners, Apple has moved you to iPadOS. This is not an iPadOS-focused guide, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides.

Who Is It For?

Apple iOS 14.4.1 has been released for all iOS 13-compatible devices. This means the iPhone 6S and newer and 7th generation iPod touch. If you don’t receive an automatic update notification, you can trigger the update manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running a later version of iOS 14 when you read this (see ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your iPhone before iOS 14.4.1 will show up.

iPad owners, Apple has moved you to iPadOS. This is not an iPadOS-focused guide, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides.

The Deal Breakers

Devoted jailbreakers, as always, will want to avoid this release. Popular jailbreaker Unc0verhas recently managed to jailbreak up to iOS 14.3 but no later versions at this stage, while checkra1n has an iOS 14 jailbreak (not iOS 14.4.1) but this is limited to Apple devices running A9(X) chipsets and older. 

Other than this, initial reports are again promising. iOS 14.4 was Apple’s most stable iOS 14 release to date and iOS 14.4.1 looks set to continue this good work. I have seen some isolated reports of graphical glitches, bugs with SiriMessaging and some early battery lifecomplaints (this can be common immediately after updates) but no major concerns or widespread issues. 

All in all, signs are highly promising. 

So What Do You Get?

The release notes for iOS 14.4.1 are as minimal as they come stating only: “This update provides important security updates and is recommended for all users.” But dig into Apple’s official security page and you will find what this is: a single security flaw in WebKit (the browser engine behind Safari):

  • Available for: iPhone 6s and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation)
  • Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution
  • Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved validation.
  • Discovered by Clément Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group and Alison Huffman of Microsoft Browser Vulnerability Research

No further details have been revealed, but this is standard protocol until iPhone and iPad users have had the opportunity to install the update. That said, it’s safe to assume that when a single vulnerability causes Apple to launch a dedicated iOS update, it’s serious. 

Apple iOS 14.4.1 Verdict: Upgrade

Apple iOS 14.4.1 is a single-issue release but that issue is clearly significant. While cautious upgraders will want to wait for my final verdict, early reports suggest this is another stable release and it fixes a security vulnerability which should be patched ASAP. 

I keep this guide updated and, for those who are highly cautious about updating, I will offer my final verdict in a week. 

03/19/21 Final Verdict – I have not witnessed any significant escalation in the bug reports listed below nor any notable deal breakers over the last week. I would advise everyone now upgrade, especially considering Apple deemed the security flaw to be important enough to support a dedicated iOS release.

The Road Ahead 

Apple iOS 14.5 has now been through multiple beta releases and a final release is imminent. In contrast to iOS 14.4.1, this is a feature-packed release which brings iPhone unlocking via your Apple Watch (great for mask wearers), smart Siri support for your preferred music apps, ‘App Tracking Transparency’, PS5 and Xbox controller support, crowd sourced alerts in Apple Maps (think Waze) and more. It’s a big one. 

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