We’ve always been able to downgrade to a recent iOS version by installing an IPSW file on an iPhone or iPad through iTunes for Mac and Windows, but that’s no longer possible in the latest iTunes 12.9 beta, distributed last week as part of the macOS Mojave 10.14.4 developer beta.

UPDATE: This is apparently the result of a bug rather than a change of policy by Apple. Having reached out to Apple asking if the change was deliberate or a bug, Cult of Mac was told that Apple hasn’t changed its policy on iOS downgrades.

As first noted on Reddit last night, and confirmed by one of the commenters, Apple appears to have disabled iOS downgrades via a locally saved IPSW firmware file in the latest iTunes 12.9.4.61 beta, even if the IPSW file is still being signed by the company.

Here’s what the redditor wrote:

Discovered this as I was trying to update my iPhone XS to iOS 12.1.1 (signed) using an IPSW file I downloaded from IPSW.me. The latest iTunes 12.9.4.61 beta and Apple Configurator 2.8.2 have seemingly disabled the Option+click update and restore method, forcing you to use the latest iOS version (currently 12.1.3).

I replicated this on another machine and spotted somoene asking about it on Twitter.

This was possible in the previous iTunes version. For example, the latest version of iOS is iOS 12.1.3 but you can easily downgrade to the Apple-signed iOS 12.1.x firmware in iTunes 12.8.

This affects jailbreakers although there are some edge cases. For example, a critical flaw in the current iOS version may prompt the user to downgrade. In the past, people downgraded if an iOS software update slowed down their device or introduced significant battery drain.

The poster advises using the stable iTunes 12.8 version or the iTunes 12.9.2.5 beta or older for restoring or downgrading to a signed iOS version that isn’t the latest.

iTunes 12.9.3.3 reportedly works, too.

Again, this change (mostly) concerns jailbreakers who have their own reasons for downgrading because IPSW restoring will be limited to the latest available version of iOS on Apple’s servers.

I wonder if this is an intentional change. I mean, if the end game here is preventing people from downgrading, Apple could have simply stopped signing older iOS versions and call it a day.

So, what exactly is going on here, do you think?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.