The time delay between manual and automatic iOS updates is finally explained

Updating iOS

Hardened Apple users are generally divided in their views on the downloading of iOS software updates. On one hand, there are those who manually seek out updates through their iPhone or iPad’s Settings app as soon as Apple releases them, which is generally acknowledged as the better option for those who really do want or need their device to be updated quickly.

But on the other hand, there are also those users who simply allow their iDevice’s Automatic Updates feature to handle this side of things, so that they barely have to intervene manually.

However, there’s one issue with this that has long puzzled many users; the tendency for auto-updates to come through to users potentially days, and even sometimes weeks later. It’s not a phenomenon that Apple has really explained – until now.

As set out in greater detail on Reddit, intrigued iPhone user Mateusz Buda decided to email Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, to ask for more details on exactly how the iOS auto-update feature works.

Buda said he was inspired to email Federighi after encountering some Reddit posts and online news documenting customer complaints about the apparent slowness of the iOS auto-update feature.

Surprisingly, Federighi actually responded, explaining to Buda in his email reply: “We incrementally rollout new iOS updates by first making them available for those that explicitly seek them out in Settings, and then 1-4 weeks later (after we’ve received feedback on the update) ramp up to rolling out to devices with auto-update enabled.”

So, there you have it – a long-time mystery finally dispelled by Apple itself. It’s not a surprise to us that the Cupertino company has a policy of intentionally staggering software updates, given the sheer numbers of iPhones and iPads in the world. It will doubtless help Apple to give its servers a layer of protection, preventing them from being easily overwhelmed whenever the latest iOS variant is released.

Federighi’s explanation also indicates that Apple regards the auto-update feature as a safeguard for whenever problems might arise with a new iOS update. Such an approach allows for feedback to be received from early adopters and any urgently needed changes to be made, before the update is automatically downloaded by the broader iDevice user base.

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