Automatically installing iOS software updates in the middle of the night

By , Mar 2, 2016

iOS 9.3 Auto Install software update iPhone screenshot 001

Since iOS 9, the Software Update mechanism allows users to elect to have iOS automatically install a new operating system update in the middle of the night.

The Auto-Install option appears in the Settings → General → Software Update section after your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad has downloaded a new firmware update.

In prior iOS versions, the new firmware would download automatically and there would be two options given: Install and Later. In iOS 9 and later, however, tapping the Later option gives you additional options allowing you to update the device tonight or be reminded about it later..

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that this feature is new in iOS 9.3 whereas it has been available since iOS 9.0.

The new screen asks the user to type in their passcode to enable the Auto-Install option. If not passcode is set on the device, tapping Later won’t require verification.

Once the passcode has been entered, the Settings interface tells you that the new firmware will install automatically and gives you the option to opt out. It looks like iOS will then install the software update in the middle of the night, between 2-4 am.

In prior iOS versions, choosing Later would require you to go into Settings → General → Software Update and tap Install to have iOS install the new firmware.

It appears that the install time changes automatically based on how you use your device, as determined by iOS’s Proactive feature. As evidenced on the screenshot below taken on my iPod touch, Proactive has determined a different time to auto-install the new firmware.

iOS 9.3 Auto Install firmware updates iPod touch screenshot 001

By the way, tapping the Remind Me Later option will now prompt the operating system to create a reminder to install the update, which is also new. It doesn’t seem to be possible to re-enable the Auto-Install option after tapping Cancel Auto-Install.

This is an interesting development.

The Mac has long allowed users to elect whether they would like OS X software updates to be installed automatically by selecting options in System Preferences → App Store.

OS X El Capitan System Preferences App Store Mac screenshot 001

iOS has never had that option as it requires users to specifically grant their permission to install any newly downloaded over-the-air software update. Currently, users can in Settings → iTunes & App Stores elect to have their device automatically download music, apps and books purchased on another device.

iOS 7 App Store Automatic Downloads

Starting with iOS 7, iOS will automatically download a new software update to the device as it becomes available and when the device is connected to power and a Wi-Fi connection. Additionally, the Updates switch in Settings → iTunes & App Stores tells iOS to automatically install app updates through the App Store.

With the new Auto-Install feature, users can now choose to have iOS automatically install the newly downloaded firmware at the most opportune moment, typically in the middle of the night when your device is not being actively used.

What do you think of this new feature in iOS 9.3?

Hat tip to iDownloadBlog reader Ethan Humphrey who tipped us on this.

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  • Oh man, this is great for my IT clients. They never update because they’re using their phones and now they won’t have to worry about the phone updating while they’re doing something.

  • Merman123

    huh? that’s not new. iOS has had this since iOS 9.

    • You’re right, this has been implemented since iOs 9.0. I’ve updated the post to reflect this fact.


    There goes your jailbreak lol lol..

    • Blip dude

      Wouldn’t want to be the one to experiment with this but A) Perhaps having the device off overnight will probably null this action, and B) I think the OTA feature is automatically disabled after Jailbreaking to begin with.

      • PA Nard

        Usually it does, yes… at least on the last jailbreak I had!

      • VITICO

        yea true.. Forgot about that..

  • Rodney Coleman

    Yea this is old… If people hit “install later” they would know about this.

  • Thomas Hopkins

    I find this really annoying. I’m not jaibroken, but I want to stay on the same firmware so that I’m more likely to get one in the future. Is there any way to stop it asking this?

    • Blip dude

      Nope, I even tried deleting the update off my phone and it simply downloads the firmware again. Continuing the cycle!!!

  • Sandy DiVenanzo

    I need help! I accidentally hit install tonight I DO NOT EVER WANT TO UPDATE. Each update brings my old iPad to a crawl, each update brings it closer to being unusable. Apps I used to play all the time (like Soda Crush) I had to delete because it took more than a minute for each move to register!
    Does anyone know the required space to update to 9.3.2???? I’ll fill my iPad up to stop this update from happening if I have to. Thanks!