Apple released iOS & iPadOS 14.8 last Monday to patch serious vulnerabilities that could have been weaponized by hackers to run malicious code on others’ iPhones and iPads via iMessage. Most owners of these devices were advised to update without hesitation, except perhaps jailbreakers, given the gravity of what these vulnerabilities could have entailed.
Now that it’s been a week since that software update, it may come as no surprise that Apple has officially closed the signing window for iOS & iPadOS 14.7.1, the firmware that pre-dated iOS & iPadOS 14.8.
When Apple stops signing a particular version of iOS or iPadOS, it means that users will not be able to downgrade or restore their iPhone or iPad to that firmware version using traditional means. Workarounds exist if you’ve saved .shsh2 blobs, however the vast majority of iPhone and iPad owners don’t do this, as it’s used almost exclusively by jailbreakers to downgrade to exploitable firmware.
Apple’s routine unsigning of older versions of mobile operating systems has received criticism over the years, primarily for stifling user choice with respect to installing what they want on their devices. On the flip side, Apple is responsible for keeping end users safe from hacks by providing continuous security updates, and the company can’t do this if its users won’t stay updated.
That’s where firmware unsigning comes in. By blocking downgrades and nudging users into the direction of newer firmware installs when they try to restore their handset(s), the company can accomplish this task easily in addition to earning the bragging rights for rapid new firmware adoption compared to other mobile platforms, despite being artificially boosted in this forceful manner.
While jailbreakers are typically the most likely takers for downgrading their iPhone or iPad’s firmware, that’s not always the case. Apple sometimes releases firmware updates that cause more harm than good, resulting in mass exodus to the previous firmware until Apple releases a revision to remedy that issue.
A recent example of the above would have been iOS 14.7, which broke the ability for Touch ID-equipped iPhone users to unlock their Apple Watches after authenticating with Touch ID. A much older example was when iOS & iPadOS 13.2 introduced aggressive app backgrounding that would arbitrarily kill processes that shouldn’t have been killed, like background music playback.
For what it’s worth, the Taurine and unc0ver jailbreaks can’t jailbreak iOS or iPadOS 14.7.1, so not much was lost today in the jailbreak community. Checkra1n-compatible devices – or those sporting A7-A11 chips – can be jailbroken on iOS or iPadOS 14.8 regardless since the jailbreak uses a hardware-based bootrom exploit called checkm8 that can’t be patched by a software update.
You can always check to see what version(s) of iOS or iPadOS are being signed for your device on the handy IPSW.me website. You can also download firmware files for your device from our Downloads section.
Did today’s unsigning of iOS or iPadOS 14.7.1 impact you in any way? Let us know why or why not in the comments section down below.