Apple iOS 13.5.1 has arrived and it is an extremely focused release which aims to fix a hack with the potential to impact generations of iPhones. Does it deliver? It looks promising, but millions will want to avoid it.
Tip: bookmark this page because I will keep it up to date if/when new problems are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week.
Who Is It For?
iOS 13.5.1 is available for all iOS 13-compatible devices. This means the iPhone 6S and newer and the 7th generation iPod touch. Automatic notifications are being sent out, but you can also trigger it manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running iOS 13.5.5 (more in ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your iPhone otherwise iOS 13.5.1 will not show up.
iPad owners, Apple has moved you to iPadOS. This is not an iPadOS-focused guide, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides.
The Deal Breakers
Jailbreakers, iOS 13.5.1 is all about you. The release will break your jailbreak and, having so recently just got it, that will be a deal breaker for many. That said, there is a flip side to Apple’s actions, which I’ll discuss in the next section.
For everyone else, 24 hours after release the response from iOS 13.5.1 upgrades is positive. Apple has not fixed the MP4 playback problems nor the boot loops in iPadOS, but it does not appear to have introduced any major new issues. There are isolated reports of texting and typing issues, flakey Bluetooth connections and battery drain, but nothing so far with any momentum to suggest a wider problem. Reddit’s popular iOS release thread also reports no major concerns and is in a jovial mood.
So What Do You Get?
Apple’s official iOS 13.5.1 release notes simply state that the release “provides important security updates and is recommended for all users”. This is an odd description because the release actually provides just one security update.
As detailed on Apple’s official security page, iOS 13.5.1 has just a single entry: a security fix for the vulnerability exploited by the unc0ver jailbreak. Apple is not focused on the jailbreak, rather the vulnerability behind it. The flaw goes back to iOS 11 and it has the potential to be hacked by those with far less honorable intentions than unc0ver.
Breaking it down, Apple describes the fix as stemming from “a memory consumption issue” and confirms a successful hack would enable an attacker to “execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges”. Kernel privileges grant complete control over the operating system, so it’s a big deal.
This aside, there’s nothing else in iOS 13.5.1 – no new features, no tweaks, no additional security updates and no bug fixes (which will upset some).
Apple iOS 13.5.1 Verdict: Jailbreakers Ignore, Every One Else Upgrade
iOS 13.5.1 is Apple’s most singular release in a long time. It sets out to do one thing and it succeeds. For jailbreakers, this is all you need to know to avoid this update. For everyone else concerned by the flaw behind the jailbreak, early reports suggest only isolated bugs (and the continued existence of bugs already in previous releases), so if you’re running a version of iOS 13 it is stable enough for you to upgrade.
That said, for cautious upgraders, I’ll continue to monitor reports as the number of upgraders grows and deliver my final verdict in a week.
The Road Ahead
Apple has released the first beta of iOS 13.5.5. This looks set to be a relatively minor update, primarily focused on further fixes (with some clearly needed) though it will introduce one new feature that we know of: a new Audio section to the Apple News+ digital subscription service. I’d also expect a different release number (either iOS 13.5.2 or iOS 13.6) when it is finally released. Apple has developed a recent habit of giving betas different codenames, which seems needlessly confusing.
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