The Apple Studio Display runs iOS

Although Apple hasn’t talked much about the state of Studio Display firmware, reviewers have discovered that the monitor runs a full version of iOS 15.4.

A screenshot of the System Information application in macOS showing the iOS version number powering the connected Studio Display
  • Studio Display uses the iPhone 11 chip, dubbed the Apple A13 Bionic, to handle everything from transferring data and rendering spatial audio to the video-calling and photography features via the integrated 12-megapixel camera, and beyond.
  • Apple wouldn’t say whther it wrote a custom piece of software running on the A13 chip to specifically handle all those functions, but it’s now come to light that the Studio Display actually runs a full version of iOS 15.4.
  • Apple says that Studio Display firmware updates require connection to a Mac.

The A13 Bionic powering the Studio Display runs iOS

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

Speaking of software updates for the Studio Display, you can check the display firmware version in System Information. There, you can see that not only does the Studio Display run iOS, it literally runs iOS 15.4: “Version 15.4 (Build 19E241)”. That’s iOS 15.4 right down to the build number—19E241 is the same build number as iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4.

Gruber’s discovery was backed by other reviewers, including Jason Snell who reported on Twitter that the Studio Display indeed runs a current build of iOS 15.4, with the phrase “iPhone-OS_AppleDisplay.” included in its own sysdiagnose file that the device generates. Read: How to find the age of your Mac

Why that’s a big deal

One interesting consequence of the Studio Display running iOS 15.4 is that any issues with the monitor which are rooted in software should be much easier to pinpoint and solve than on, say, the discontinued Thunderbolt Display. Now, early reviews have panned Studio Display’s webcam quality but Apple says this is a software issue that will be fixed soon with an upcoming update.

How to check Apple Studio Display firmware version

You can see the version of the iOS operating system powering your Studio Display in System Information on your Mac, under “Graphics/Displays.”

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose “About This Mac”.
  2. In the About This Mac window, click the “System Report” button.
  3. In System Information, view the firmware version under “Graphics/Displays”.

You’ll see the version of the iOS software currently installed on your Studio Display.

How Apple may deliver Studio Display firmware updates

Apple hasn’t said anything about how firmware updates for the Studio Display will be delivered, prompting Gruber and others to speculate.

I shouldn’t be surprised by this but I am. But this means that if the camera image quality issues can be remedied/improved via a software update, we’re not waiting for a bug fix release for MacOS 12, but for iOS 15. Or both? I’m curious to see how software updates for the Studio Display work.

Technical specifications for the Studio Display do revealt that any software updates for the monitor will need to require connection to a Mac. This suggests Apple might deliver Studio Display firmware updates over the wired Thunderbolt connection rather than through a companion iPhone app (like with HomePod and Apple Watch).