Apple no longer signing iOS 16.1 or iOS 16.1.1, stopping voluntary downgrades from iOS 16.1.2

With the official rollout of iOS & iPadOS 16.1.1 a several Wednesdays ago, and the release of iOS 16.1.2 just last week, Apple has made a predictable move this evening by unsigning iOS & iPadOS 16.1 and 16.1.1.

iOS 16 firmware downgrade

Apple’s routine unsigning of older firmware is a strategic method by Apple to compel firmware upgrades as opposed to downgrades when restoring a device or trying to install a different version of iOS or iPadOS on it.

Installing unsigned firmware is still technically possible using non-traditional methods like futurerestore or DelayOTA, however Apple unsigning a firmware makes intentional downgrades via Finder on macOS or iTunes on Windows using the Option or Shift key method when clicking the Restore button a near impossibility since it makes Apple’s servers deny requests to install affected versions.

When Apple unsigns older firmware, it’s generally the jailbreak community that suffers the most. That’s because it’s the unsigned version(s) of iOS or iPadOS that are generally vulnerable to the exploits used in jailbreaking, so forcing upgrades undermines this.

Jailbreaking aside, firmware downgrades are sometimes the only way to escape a newly introduced bug when it makes its way into Apple’s mobile operating system. Albeit uncommon, bugs can be so severe that they impact device usability. Examples include the following:

  • iOS 16.0 over-prompting users on clipboard access when pasting copied content into another app
  • iOS 14.7 breaking the Apple Watch’s ability to be unlocked with the host iPhone’s Touch ID sensor
  • iOS & iPadOS 13.2 imposing incredibly aggressive background management on backgrounded apps

By locking users out of voluntary firmware downgrades, they’re left with no other choice but to upgrade their firmware when the need to restore arises. Users have long critiqued Apple about this practice, but without government reigning in, it seems unlikely of Apple changing its policy as it lets the company artificially inflate new firmware adoption numbers to impress shareholders.

You can always see what version(s) of iOS or iPadOS are being signed for your device by visiting the handy website. Furthermore, you can download any firmware file you might need from our dedicated Downloads page.

Has Apple’s unsigning of iOS & iPadOS 16.1 and 16.1.1 hindered you in any way? Be sure to let us know in the comments section down below.