Each major iOS release has its issues. People have issues downloading iOS updates, they run into interface glitches, and discover odd bugs with the way Apple’s apps and utilities work with the new operating system. Just check out our list of iOS 10 problems for a recent example of the kinds of things that can go wrong.
But some iOS updates have been worse than others. A few have brought major errors and flaws, and others have unintentionally introduced serious security vulnerabilities into Apple’s mobile operating system. Read on to check out some of the most infamous iOS updates that Apple has released, and look back on the numerous bugs and issues that plagued unsuspecting iPhone owners.
1. iOS 9.3.1: See contacts and photos on a locked phone
iOS 9.3.1 brought a pretty serious security flaw with it. An exploit enabled anyone with access to a locked iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus running iOS 9.3.1 the ability to view the phone’s contact list and photo albums, says The Daily Dot. You could activate Siri, ask Siri to search Twitter, and when Siri asks what to search for, say “@gmail.com” or the second half of any other email address. When Siri produces a list of results, choose a tweet with a full email address in it. Then, you’d need to click the tweet and, using the 3D Touch feature of the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, firm-press the email address to get a pop-up window. Tap “Add new contact,” and then you’d be able to click the photo box to view all the photos on the device. Or tap “Add to existing contact” to browse the other contacts saved on the device.
2. iOS 9.3: Safari crashes and bricked iPhones
iOS 9.3 was hailed as one of Apple’s worst updates thanks to major problems with Safari, The Register states. The upgrade caused many iPhones’ browsers to crash. Many iPhone owners complained that their devices were no longer able to open links in Safari, or even in Mail, without the browser freezing up. Word of the Safari issues came after Apple released an update to address another iOS 9.3 flaw, which left some owners of the iPhone 5s and older iPads with bricked devices which were unable to connect with Apple’s activation servers. However, despite the update’s much-publicized problems, iOS 9.3 did show a lower crash rate than all other active iOS builds at the time.
3. iOS 9.0.2: A ton of bugs
iOS 9.0.2 came with a surprising variety of problems, Forbes mentions. Despite Apple’s repeated release of bug fixes, those patches not only failed to fix the issues, but introduced new ones as well. All told, users who downloaded iOS 9.0.2 struggled with broken notifications, major issues receiving emails, iMessage failures, touchscreen failures on both iPhones and iPads, Game Center issues, and broken app installs. The array of issues was particularly disappointing given Apple’s marketing of iOS 9 as a release that would focus on optimizing iOS’s speed and reliability.
4. iOS 8.0.1: Touch ID disabled
There have been plenty of flawed iOS updates, but few have been so bad that Apple pulled them after their release. iOS 8.0.1 was intended to fix various bugs, but users encountered major problems with the release, says The New York Times. The issues seemed to primarily affect users of the latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and users reported that the update disabled Touch ID capability on their devices. Apple withdrew the update and made it possible for users to revert to the previous version of iOS by connecting their phone to a computer.
5. iOS 7: Malicious apps able to track user inputs
Minor bugs are common in the first build of a new iOS release. But iOS 7 had a more serious flaw — it could enable a malicious app to monitor and track a user’s touch and button inputs while said app is running in the background, says ReadWrite. The flaw was associated with the multitasking functionality in iOS, and it would automatically transmit all user inputs to a remote server. According to the researchers who discovered the flaw, the only way for users to fix the issue before Apple issued an update was to manually remove open apps from the multitasking bar. According to Wired, the cause of the flaw was “embarrassingly simple,” and resulted from “a single spurious ‘goto’ in one part of Apple’s authentication code that accidentally bypasses the rest of it.”
6. iOS 6.0.1: Download woes and a bypass for the lock
Mashable notes that iOS 6 had its share of “teething troubles” at the start of its availability, including a notable login Wi-Fi bug that Apple quickly resolved, plus issues accessing music. iOS 6’s problems began with the process of downloading the update itself, since the release weighed in at 2.5GB and took as long as five hours to download. Later, however, it came to light that iOS 6.0.1 had a more serious flaw: a bug that let anyone unlock an iPhone without a passcode. The trick involved opening the emergency call window, pressing a few digits, then quickly ending the call. Then, the user would have to go to the lock screen, hold down the power button, and tap the emergency call before the slider appeared. The bug would then place the user inside the Phone app, where they could make calls, send messages, and see contact information.
7. iOS 5: Battery life shortened
Most people expect an iOS update to make their iPhone’s operating system more stable and more efficient. But some iPhone owners who downloaded iOS 5 were disappointed to find that the release caused battery life to take a hit, AllThingsD reports. Reduced battery life is among the least desirable side effects to be associated with an operating system update. After complaints about battery life issues began to surface, Apple announced that it was working on an update to address the problem. The battery life issues appeared to vary based on what network a user was on, their usage patterns, and other factors.