Apple iOS 16.4 Release: Should You Upgrade?
Apple iOS 16.4 has been released six weeks after iOS 16.3.1, and it is both feature-packed and full of security fixes. Here’s everything you need to know.
Who Is It For?
Apple iOS 16.4 is available for all iOS 16-compatible devices, which means the iPhone 8/iPhone X and newer. iOS 16 dropped support for the iPhone 6S and 7 ranges and the iPod Touch. Apple has also released a dedicated security update in the form of iOS 15.7.4 to protect older devices.
If you don’t receive an update notification, you can trigger the latest updates manually by navigating 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 publicly released updates will appear.
The first 24 hours after release have been relatively smooth for iOS 16.4 and iPadOS 16.4 upgraders. There are no obvious deal breakers, though a number of graphical glitches appear to have made it through to the final release. These include isolated reports of the cellular strength icon disappearing, the Reminder widget not populating and wallpaper distortion.
Concerns also remain over iOS 16’s reporting of ‘system data,’ which again ballooned in several instances for users after updating to iOS 16.4. Apple needs to address this in iOS 17.
So What Do You Get?
Apple’s iOS 16.4 release notes list the following new features and fixes:
— 21 new emoji including animals, hand gestures, and objects are now available in emoji keyboard.
— Notifications for web apps added to the Home Screen
— Voice Isolation for cellular calls prioritizes your voice and blocks out ambient noise around you.
— Duplicates album in Photos expands support to detect duplicate photos and videos in an iCloud Shared Photo Library.
— VoiceOver support for maps in the Weather app.
— Accessibility setting to automatically dim video when flashes of light or strobe effects are detected.
— Fixes an issue where Ask to Buy requests from children may fail to appear on the parent's device.
— Addresses issues where Matter-compatible thermostats could become unresponsive when paired to Apple Home.
— Crash Detection optimizations on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models.
These additions are actually just the tip of the iceberg. Even by Apple’s standards, the iOS 16.4 release notes are unusually incomplete, missing out a whole host of new features and tweaks, including:
- Support for badges on home screen web apps.
- Support for home screen web apps via third-party browsers.
- PlayStation 5 DualSense Edge controller support comes to iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4, tvOS 16.4 and macOS Venture 13.3.
- Apple Podcasts UI changes, including a new profile icon, playback controls in the Up Next section and Channels access via the Library section.
- CarPlay Up Next adds similar functionality as well as adding podcast discovery in Browse.
- A new Always-on Display filter for Focus Mode
- An order tracking widget has been added for Apple Wallet.
- In Settings, AppleCare ‘Coverage’ shows all your active and expired AppleCare policies
- 13 new and 11 updated Shortcut actions
- The long-awaited return of the traditional page-turning animation in Apple Books.
- Emergency SOS via Satellite adds support for Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Portugal.
- 5G standalone support for T-Mobile (US).
It’s a substantial list (credit to MacRumors) and significantly longer than the official iOS 16.4 release notes. Why Apple would exclude so many new and useful additions is unknown.
iOS 16.4 Security
Apple’s iOS 16.4 security page reveals no fewer than 33 new security patches. The good news is none of the vulnerabilities are so-called ‘Zero Day’ threats, which means hackers were unable to exploit them before Apple came up with a fix.
That said, the new patches are extensive, covering the Apple Neural Engine, Calendar, Camera, CarPlay, Bluetooth, Find My, iCloud, Photos, Podcasts, Safari, Webkit (the browser engine behind Safari) and more.
There are also two fixes (CVE-2023-27969 and CVE-2023-27933) for the Kernel, the core of the iOS and iPadOS operating systems, which patch vulnerabilities that could have allowed hackers to execute malicious code on iPhones and iPads. In short: iOS 16.4 is an important update.
Apple iOS 16.4 Verdict: Upgrade
Major iOS updates tend to cause bigger problems, but as iOS 16 matures, it is no surprise to see iOS 16.4 introduce a stack of new features and security updates without any significant issues. Bear in mind that we are only 24 hours into the release, so problems may still be found as more iPhone and iPad owners update, but I am happy to recommend keen upgraders hit that button now.
If you are a cautious iPhone or iPad owner and prefer to wait, I will deliver my final verdict in a week. So bookmark this page.
The Road Ahead
While iOS 17 will be unveiled at WWC in early June, I would still expect several more ‘minor point’ updates to iOS 16 (such as iOS 16.4.1) before its successor launches in September.
I would also not rule out seeing iOS 16.5, though we should know about this in the next few weeks, given the 6-8 week testing process Apple carries out for major point updates. If you want to try iOS updates during the testing phase, you can join the Apple Beta Software Program, but be warned: there will be bugs!
Kelly, G. (2023, March 28). Apple iOS 16.4 Release: Should You Upgrade? Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2023/03/28/apple-ios-164-ipados-164-release-should-you-upgrade-new-iphone-update/?sh=3b57b8b92624