Release candidate shows iOS 15.3 will be just bug fixes

Release candidate shows iOS 15.3 will be just bug fixes

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Mac malware is real. Watch out.
Bug fixes aren't exciting, but they're necessary.
Graphic: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded the iOS 15.3 release candidate to developers on Thursday, along with the iPadOS equivalent. Surprisingly, the updates appear to include nothing but bug fixes and security updates. There are no new features. Still, I t’s possible these will take care of a headline-making WebKit bug that leaks user information.

Release candidates for macOS Monterey 12.2, watchOS 8.4 and tvOS 15.3 are also out on Thursday.

What’s new in iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3? Not much.

Apple began seeding iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 betas in mid-December. So far, those testing the updates haven’t turned up any new features. The release candidates out Thursday show why: There aren’t any.

RCs give the world the first look at the release notes for the upcoming operating systems. And the ones out Thursday make the lack of new features clear. “iOS 15.3 includes bug fixes and security updates for your iPad and is recommended for all users,” says the iPhone version. The iPad one says the same, just substituting “iPadOS 15.3.”

At this point, it’s not known if the updates include a fix for a WebKit bug that allows websites to view iPhone and iPad users’ browsing habits and Google account details. The bug affects Apple’s Safari browser on all devices, as well as third-party browsers on iPhones and iPads.

It’s not surprising that Apple is introducing a pair of bug fix updates — the company does this all the time. What’s a bit confusing is the name. The current version is iOS 15.2.1, and ordinarily a new version without additional features would be called iOS 15.2.2. It’s the jump to iOS 15.3 that is surprising.

Please stand by

Release candidates are the last step in beta testing. They’re what Apple used to call golden masters. No matter the name, they give beta testers an opportunity to test the final version of an operating system before it’s introduced to the general public.

With iOS 15.3 RC and iPadOS 15.3 RC in developers’ hands, a non-beta release to the general public is expected next week.

In the meantime, access to the prerelease versions is only for registered and paying members of the Apple Developer Program. Public betas of the RCs should be out soon, though. (All this is also true for macOS Monterey 12.2, watchOS 8.4 and tvOS 15.3.)