Apple stops signing iOS 16.3.1, blocks downgrade from 16.4

Apple has stopped signing iOS 16.3.1 and iPadOS 16.3.1 following the release of iOS 16.4 and iOS 16.4.1 updates in the last two weeks. This means that iPhone and iPad users can no longer downgrade to this version of the operating system if they’re already running a newer version of iOS.

Apple no longer signing iOS 16.3.1

iOS 16.3.1 was released on February 13 with bug fixes, enhancements to iPhone 14’s Crash Detection, and security patches. On March 27, Apple released iOS 16.4 with dozens of new emoji, notifications for web apps, Voice Isolation for cellular calls, and other enhancements.

As for iOS 16.4.1, the update was released to the public on Friday, April 7 with “important bug fixes and security updates.” One of the patched exploits allowed third-party apps to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges, while a second exploit found in WebKit – the Safari engine – could also lead to malicious code execution.

For both flaws, Apple says it is “aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited” so get these updates installed as soon as possible to be on the safe side.

Reverting to older iOS builds is a technique often used by those who jailbreak their iPhones and iPads. Back in December, the hacker team palera1n released the first jailbreak tool based on the checkm8 exploit compatible with iOS 15 and iOS 16. The tool works with all versions from iOS 15.0 to iOS 16.3.

Restoring an Apple device to a previous version of iOS can also sometimes be helpful for users who experience significant bugs after upgrading to the latest version of iOS.

Downgrade from iOS 16 to iOS 15

While you can’t easily revert to iOS 16.3.1, you still have a chance to downgrade from iOS 16.4.1 or iOS 16.4 to iOS 15. That’s because Apple is still providing security updates to users running iOS 15.7.4. Those who want to downgrade an iPhone or iPad must do so using a Mac or PC.

This is not the first time Apple has offered the option to let users stay on an older version of iOS. Last year, once iOS 15 became available, users could choose to stay on iOS 14 longer while Apple was still releasing security updates for it. However, the company removed this option a few months later.

It’s unclear how long iOS 15.7.4 will remain as an alternative to iOS 16. It’s worth noting that users running iOS 16.5 beta can also downgrade to iOS 16.4.1 or iOS 15.7.4.

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