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If you haven’t installed Apple’s latest iPhone update yet, read this first

May 20th, 2021 at 5:05 PM
iOS 14.5.1

Apple’s latest update to its mobile operating software has proven to be one of the most consequential and news-making software releases in recent memory from the iPhone maker, with iOS 14.5 accomplishing everything from introducing a strict new privacy regime that users can enjoy to this software release firing a shot across the bow against Facebook — and, specifically, against its business model that involves tracking users around the web.

Among other things iOS 14.5 brought was the arrival of App Tracking Transparency, Apple’s new setting that iPhone users can turn on if they don’t want apps like Facebook to track their activity across different apps anymore. Not surprisingly, early indications are that the vast majority of iPhone users are turning this setting on when given the choice, according to analytics firms tracking this activity. Meanwhile, the new software release also brought users plenty of other new features, including the ability to unlock your iPhone with an Apple Watch, new Siri voices, AirTag support, and much more. There is, however, another important update to share about iOS 14.5.1 which iPhone users will definitely want to be aware of.

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Earlier this month, Apple released iOS 14.5.1, and while the point of that update seemed to be about fixing an App Tracking Transparency bug, Apple also used the release to patch two zero-days that might have been actively exploited. Apple revealed on a support page that iOS 14.5.1 addresses two vulnerabilities affecting WebKit, which is the browser engine that powers Safari and renders web content in other first-party apps. No sooner did Apple rush out this update to fix those problems, however, than it became clear that the update also may have brought along some new problems, as well.

Some users have reported a big drain on the iPhone battery life and general performance since installing iOS 14.5.1. In fact, Geekbench battery tests performed by iAppleBytes revealed that an iPhone 11 running iOS 14.5.1 managed around 5.5 hours of battery life, down from 6 hours for an iPhone 11 running iOS 14.5.

This puts you between a rock and a hard place, because while iOS 14.5.1 includes security fixes for currently exploited vulnerabilities, you’ve apparently got to pay for it in the form of a drag on performance.

Luckily, though, iOS 14.6 will bring a fix for this performance issue. That forthcoming OS release is in beta now and as of the time of this writing doesn’t produce the same drag on battery life and performance. It should be coming soon — in fact, Apple has already made the first iOS 14.7 and iPadOS 14.7 developer betas available as of Wednesday afternoon. As my colleague Jacob Siegal wrote in a separate post today, this could suggest that iOS 14.6 is nearly ready for public consumption as well — so if you aren’t a beta tester, be on the lookout for an important update in the days ahead.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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