Apple last week released iOS & iPadOS 16.6.1 to the general public with a patch addressing some serious security concerns on iPhones and iPads.
But in a typical Apple fashion, these new software updates came at a price, as Apple is no longer permitting users to voluntarily downgrade their devices to iOS or iPadOS 16.6 by closing the signing window of these older firmware versions.
By no longer signing iOS & iPadOS 16.6, Apple has made it so that upon trying to install this version on an eligible iPhone or iPad, their iTunes or Finder software will reject the installation and instead prompt the user to restore and update their iPhone or iPad instead. This will, obviously, install iOS or iPadOS 16.6.1 instead.
Firmware downgrades have routinely been used in the past by prospective jailbreakers who wanted to run jailbreakable firmware, and while getting on exploitable firmware is still just a relevant today given the rarity of jailbreak-worthy exploits that hit the streets, it’s worth noting that even non-jailbreakers see value in firmware downgrades.
For example, there have been some rather notable times in recent memory where new firmware updates have introduced bugs so bothersome that users would actually downgrade their firmware to find temporary relief. Examples of those include:
- iOS 16.0 over-prompting users on clipboard access when pasting copied content into another app
- iOS 14.7 breaking the Apple Watch’s ability to be unlocked with the host iPhone’s Touch ID sensor
- iOS & iPadOS 13.2 imposing incredibly aggressive background management on backgrounded apps
It’s worth noting that unofficial methods of downgrading iPhone or iPad firmware do exist, but they require users to jump through several hoops to use them. For example, futurerestore works on older checkm8 bootrom exploit-vulnerable devices that have the relevant .shsh blobs saved, and the DelayOTA method allows users to upgrade to unsigned firmware for up to 90 days past its unsigning date.
For what it’s worth, we think it’s strange how Apple restricts iPhone and iPad firmware downgrades, but allows Mac users to downgrade on a whim. Further, we think that users should have the right to downgrade their device’s firmware on their own watch instead of having a corporation dictate to them what firmware they need to run – we have always stood behind user choice, and always will.
As always, you can check to see what firmware version(s) are being signed for your device by checking the handy ipsw.me website. You can also download any firmware file that you might need from our dedicated Downloads page.
Are you upset to see that Apple has stopped signing iOS & iPadOS 16.6? Let us know in the comments section down elbow.