Apple Releases iOS 15.2.1: Urgent iPhone Update With Critical Fixes (2022)

Apple iOS 15.2.1 is a surprise update with fixes for CarPlay, Messages and more. Read on for what’s in it and how to get it.

Make Forbes your destination for all-things iOS. Stay ahead of the curve with Anthony Karcz when each version hits public beta. Read full details of what’s in the release from me the moment it lands. Kate O’Flaherty looks at the security considerations of each new release. And then read Gordon Kelly’s analysis of whether you ought to install or wait.

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Which iPhones can run iOS 15.2.1?

If you have a device that runs iOS 14, you’re in luck. Remarkably, Apple has ensured that every iOS 14-capable iPhone runs iOS 15, too. That’s quite the achievement, stretching back across every device released in the last six years.

It’s now available to download on compatible iPhones, with iPadOS 15.2.1 for suitable iPads. Compatibility for the phones reaches back as far as iPhone 6s, including iPhone SE first and current editions, plus the seventh-generation iPod touch. The complete list is: iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, Phone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE (second generation) iPhone SE (first generation) and iPod seventh generation.

For iPads, you’re good if you have any iPad Pro, any iPad Air from iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4 or newer and iPad from the fifth generation onwards.

How to get it

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You doubtless know the routine now, but just in case: open the Settings app on the device and then choose General, then Software Update. Once you’ve clicked on Download and Install, it’ll do everything for you. It’s a smallish update of less than 1GB, so you’ll be done in a trice.

What’s in the release

This update is just about fixing bugs. Messages have been tending to not load photos sent using an iCloud Link – that’s fixed here, it seems.

Similarly, third-party CarPlay apps that previously wouldn’t respond to input will behave properly again. That’s the plan, anyway.

There are also important security updates which are an important part of iOS 15.2.1. It’s all to sort HomeKit issues, specifically “processing a maliciously crafted HomeKit accessory name may cause a denial of service.” This is a vulnerability which was seen last year and involved changing the name of a HomeKit device to something with more than 500,000 characters (honestly, who has the time? Well, hackers, I suppose). This was partly fixed in iOS 15.1 but this, it seems is the complete deal. It could be the reason to update your devices now.

Previous updates

The release of iOS 15.2 on December 13 brought lots of new stuff: Apple Music Voice Plan, Hide my email, a cool extra feature which lets you send an email without revealing your address, to a marketer, for a start. There was Macro Mode on iPhone 13 Pro to improve h ow the iPhone camera flips to macro.

Digital Legacy and improvements to Find My, an update to Messages and the arrival of the new App Privacy Report were also here. There were updates to the TV app, re-organizing the store app, and enhance city maps in Apple Maps in CarPlay. Smaller updates are also here with Reminders and Notes.

iOS 15.1.1 came out on November 17 and was a very specific update, designed to do one thing: to fix call dropping on some iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models. I never experienced it but if you did, you’ll have been glad of this.

iOS 15.1 was released on October 25, and SharePlay was the big new addition, a way to share experiences in real time in FaceTime. There was also Lossless audio for the HomePod andtwo changes to the camera: first, ProRes video capture on iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, something mostly of interest to the most keen of enthusiast and professional photographers. Second, the Macro Mode for iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max can be set so it doesn’t automatically switch to the Ultra Wide camera when you get up close to your subject.

Covid-19 Vaccination card support comes to Apple Wallet. There’s an update to Translate to offer support for Mandarin Chinese (Taiwan) translations and fixes for issues such as the Photos app reporting storage as full when it’s not.

iOS 15.0.2

Released on Monday, October 11, this was a bug fix update that sorted issues where photos were erroneously deleted from Messages saved to Photos, fixed connection issues with the Leather Wallet with MagSafe and sorted CarPlay problems.

iOS 15.0.1

This update came out on Friday, October 1, fixed the failed Unlock With Apple Watch feature that happened when iOS 15 came out. It’s a highly useful element, so getting this back was a big deal.

Additionally, a Settings app issue where an alert that storage was full was incorrectly displayed, has now been fixed, it seems.

And Audio Meditations could start a workout on Apple Watch, apparently, though I never saw this. That’s been sorted now, hopefully.

iOS 15

Released on Monday, September 20, the first version of iOS 15 was full of innovation and upgrade. FaceTime updates are among the most extensive, and in some ways the app is changing out of all recognition.

Apple’s Messages has always been a powerful app, but it’s now redesigned to allow you to share stuff more easily. Share a favorite music track in Messages and it’ll show up in Apple Music in a special Shared with You section. This new section will also be in Safari, Apple News, Podcasts, Apple TV and Photos.

iCloud+ is an addition to the services you get through iCloud but better and these premium services, iCloud+ Private Relay, Hide My Email and better HomeKit Secure Video come at no extra cost over your current iCloud subscription. Note that this means you have to be paying for iCloud, it’s not included in the free 5GB level, only 50GB for 99c a month and above.

iCloud+ Private Relay is one of the keenest privacy features, though right now it’s only in beta. It’s an internet privacy service which means you can connect to most networks in a more secure way, Apple says.

Hide My Email is along the same lines, meaning that you don’t have to reveal your true email address in a form on the web, for instance. Apple creates a random email address which it forwards to your inbox.

HomeKit Secure Video Recording in iCloud+ lets you connect up to an unlimited number of security cameras, and none of the video footage counts towards your iCloud storage.

Custom email domain is the other feature in iCloud+ and means that if you have a domain that you control, once you’ve configured iCloud as the email provider for your domain, you can set up up to three personal aliases for your iCloud email address using your domain.

Focus takes do not disturb to the next level, letting you choose times, locations and more for specific ways notifications come through.

That’s not all when it comes to Notifications. These have been redesigned, too, so it can group them together, offer a summary of relevant stuff and mute notifications as you wish.

New features for Memoji include body language with everything from high fives to yoga poses, now that upper body depictions are included, as well as new clothing headwear and glasses. Oh, and if you want your Memoji to have eyes where each is a different color, you can do that, too.

Weather has been upgraded. Apple bought the brilliant Dark Sky app a while back and some of the granular detail that that has is now on the Weather app. The app itself has been updated with significantly more realistic backgrounds and details of next-hour precipitation—a Dark Sky specialty.

Maps now looks stunning, in selected cities at least, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and London. Well, where else do you need? Joking. But it’s a good start with gorgeous-looking improvements and additions. I’ll be honest, I don’t like the new Maps app icon, but there we are.

Safari is one of the big ones, thanks to the controversial redesign that put the address bar at the bottom instead of the top. There was a lot of pushback against this and Apple did what it did when it introduced natural scrolling on the Mac: it made it optional. If you like the simplicity of a tab bar at the bottom where you can scroll back and forth just with your thumb, then the new design is for you. If not, the classic version is still there.

Live Text is another biggie. If there’s text in the camera view, you can tap on it to, for example, dial a phone number or copy text. And it can translate text into English, Chinese, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Siri is certainly a capable voice assistant but now it’s more private. With iOS 15, it can process speech on the device.

More features are coming in the next weeks and months such as Universal Control to iPadOS 15 which will let you control an iPad and Mac from the same mouse and SharePlay which lets you share your screen while you’re enjoying a song or video, for instance, with someone else. Stay tuned for these additions as they arrive.

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