There’s no downgrading if you’ve already upgraded to iOS 14.5

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iOS 14.5 brings App Tracking Transparency, mask-friendly Face ID
Don't think about turning back.
Photo: Apple

Apple has stopped signing iOS 14.4.2 and iPadOS 14.4.2. That means that it’s no longer possible to downgrade if you’ve upgraded to iOS or iPadOS 14.5.

The eagerly anticipated iOS 14.5 was a big iOS update for Apple. It introduced the ability to unlock an iPhone using an Apple Watch while wearing a mask, along with the controversial App Tracking Transparency feature, new emojis and Siri voices, a Podcasts app update, and more.

Apple released iOS 14.5 last Monday. Then, one week on, it released iOS 14.5.1. This fixed a problem with App Track Transparency, stopping some users from receiving prompts.

Why Apple stops signing downgrades

Apple typically stops signing software updates relatively quickly after an update is released to ensure that as many people as possible are running the latest OS update. “Signing” refers to the way Apple’s servers validate software prior to its installation. Only signed packages are able to be able to be installed. It’s a way of validating that you are installing a valid piece of software from Apple, and not a hacked version that comes from a different source.

Apple has never, as far as I’m aware, given definitive reasons for stopping signing older pieces of software. However, the reasons that make sense involve not having the person-power to continue supporting every version of its software, and — probably more importantly — the security implications.

As was the case with iOS 14.5.1, updates are often there to fix bugs and, sometimes, vulnerabilities. Apple wants to make sure that as many people as possible are protected from running into problems. Allowing them to downgrade from newer, safer OS versions to older ones therefore wouldn’t make a ton of sense.

Apple likely gives a few days of leeway in order to confirm that the new version doesn’t have any unintended bugs. If it did, users could quickly downgrade to the previous version while Apple pushed out a fix. When this has been confirmed to not be the case, Apple stops downgrades.

How are you finding iOS 14.5 (and iOS 14.5.1) so far? Let us know your thoughts below.