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Apple iOS 10.2 – Should You Upgrade and What’s Included?

Apple has released iOS 10.2 for it’s iOS family of products including the iPhone and iPad. The point releases usually amount to more than bug fixes but are also peppered with new features and security updates. iOS 10.1 was the last point milestone release for iOS 10 back in October 2016, and it included some significant feature additions to Maps, Messages, Apple Watch and the Camera app. iOS 10.2 continues the trend of major updates just under two months later. The highlights: a rollout of the new TV app, which was touted at the Apple Event in October, about 100 new emoji, and a bevy of security fixes, performance tweaks, and improvements for photos, messages, music, news, and accessibility.

Apple also fixed security vulnerabilities in iOS 10.2, which span accessibility, accounts, Find my iPhone, graphics drivers, image capture, local authentication, mail, media player, profiles, and springboard. Of note are some nasty sounding exploits that could potentially cause a denial of service from a maliciously crafted video, arbitrary code being executed from a malicious certificate, and a few holes that let people with physical access to your phone access some content without unlocking the screen. In the accessibility area, the ability to speak your password has been removed, since someone could overhear it. I suppose this means that visually impaired users will have to use Touch ID (indeed, iOS 10.2 immediately prompts you to set up Touch ID if you haven’t already).

Should You Upgrade Your iPad or iPhone 10.2?

iOS 10 was released in September followed by its first point update in late October. The new version has experienced fast adoption with more than 60% of Apple devices already running the operating system which tells me Apple is getting plenty of testing done by its user base on this new OS. However, there is no need to rush out and upgrade yet if you like to wait a few weeks to let 10.2 bake in the wild. The Apple ecosystem has millions of guinea pigs to find any potential bugs in a major update such as 10.2. So, wait it out a bit to see how users respond before jumping on it. That said, there are some vulnerabilities fixed by 10.2 which we’ve listed below; I encourage you to read through the vulnerabilities fixed and determine if any are worrisome enough for you to update immediately. If having the latest security fixes is critical to your peace of mind, I would go and grab it now (that’s usually the driver that pushes me to update…)

If you use your iPhone and iPad with devices like an Apple TV, there are obvious benefits to getting it right now such as the new TV app with Up Next, Recommendations, and Discovery. Mail also received some love this time around with several bugs getting fixed. For me personally, I’m looking forward to the Bluetooth improvements as I have a headset that loves to randomly disconnect during phone conversations… Hopefully, the fix mentioned (see below) resolves that issue for me.

How to Install iOS 10.2 on Your iPhone or iPad

Users can download the latest iOS update by launching Settings > General > Software Update. Although this is a recommended update, make sure you perform a backup just in case.  The update is quite large in comparison to previous releases, weighing around 359 MBs. [Editors note: From download to installation, this took me about 15 minutes.]

Some users including myself have experienced issues with battery life under iOS 10.1.1; hopefully, this update will fix it. Here is a detailed list of what’s new and fixed in in iOS 10.2.

TV

  • Use Up Next to see the movies and shows you’re currently watching and pick up where you left off
  • Get recommendations for new movies and TV shows in Watch Now 
  • Discover new apps and the latest iTunes releases in the Store 
  • Access the Library for your iTunes purchases and rentals

Emoji

  • Beautifully redesigned emoji that reveal even more detail
  • Over 100 new emoji including new faces, food, animals, sports, and professions

Photos

  • Improves stabilization and delivers faster frame rate for Live Photos
  • Improves accuracy of groupings of similar photos of the same person in the People album
  • Fixes an issue where Memories might generate a memory from photos of screenshots, whiteboards or receipts
  • Fixes an issue where the camera would stay zoomed in after switching back from the Camera Roll on iPhone 7 Plus
  • Additional support for RAW digital cameras

Messages

  • Adds new love and celebration full screen effects in Messages
  • Fixes an issue that sometimes prevented the keyboard from displaying in Messages

Music

  • Swipe up the Now Playing screen to more easily access Shuffle, Repeat and Up Next
  • Choose how to sort Playlists, Albums, and Songs in Library

News

  • Stories you’ve saved for later now appear the new Saved section
  • The best paid stories from channels you subscribe to will now appear in a dedicated section in For You
  • It’s now easier than ever to get to the next story, just swipe left or tap Next Story while reading

Mail

  • Fixes an issue that caused the Move sheet to persist after filing a Mail message
  • Addresses an issue with long press activating copy and paste in Mail
  • Fixes an issue in which the wrong message would be selected after deleting a Mail conversation

Accessibility

  • Adds BraillePen14 support to VoiceOver
  • Fixes an issue where the braille table could switch unexpectedly with VoiceOver
  • Fixes an issue where sometimes Siri enhanced voices were unavailable to VoiceOver
  • Fixes an issue where VoiceOver users could not re-order items in lists
  • Fixes an issue where Switch Control was sometimes unable to delete Voicemails

Other improvements and fixes

  • Adds notification support for HomeKit accessories including window coverings, occupancy, motion, door/window, smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak sensors
  • Adds notification support for HomeKit accessories when software updates are available to HomeKit accessories 
  • Improves Bluetooth performance and connectivity with 3rd party accessories
  • Fixes an issue that could cause FaceTime participants to appear out of focus
  • Fixes an issue that could cause FaceTime calls to appear with incorrect aspect ratio and orientation
  • Fixes an issue that prevented some Visual Voicemail from completing playback
  • Fixes a Safari Reader issue that could cause articles to open as empty pages
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Safari to quit unexpectedly after marking an item as read in Reading List

Security Fixes in iOS 10.2

Accessibility

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: A nearby user may be able to overhear spoken passwords

Description: A disclosure issue existed in the handling of passwords. This issue was addressed by disabling the speaking of passwords.

CVE-2016-7634: Davut Hari

Accessibility

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: A person with physical access to an iOS device may be able to access photos and contacts from the lock screen

Description: A lock screen issue allowed access to photos and contacts on a locked device. This issue was addressed by restricting options offered on a locked device.

CVE-2016-7664: Miguel Alvarado of iDeviceHelp

Accounts

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: An issue existed which did not reset the authorization settings on app uninstall

Description: This issue was addressed through improved sanitization.

CVE-2016-7651: Ju Zhu and Lilang Wu of Trend Micro

Find My iPhone

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: An attacker with an unlocked device may be able to disable Find My iPhone

Description: A state management issue existed in the handling of authentication information. This issue was addressed through improved storage of account information.

CVE-2016-7638: Sezer Sakiner, an anonymous researcher

Graphics Driver

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: Watching a maliciously crafted video may lead to a denial of service

Description: A denial of service issue existed in the handling of video. This issue was addressed through improved input validation.

CVE-2016-7665: Moataz El Gaml of Schlumberger, an anonymous researcher

Image Capture

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: A malicious HID device may be able to cause arbitrary code execution

Description: A validation issue existed in the handling of USB image devices. This issue was addressed through improved input validation.

CVE-2016-4690: Andy Davis of NCC Group

Local Authentication

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: The device may not lock the screen after the idle timeout

Description: A logic issue existed in the handling of the idle timer when the Touch ID prompt is shown. This issue was addressed through improved handling of the idle timer.

CVE-2016-7601: an anonymous researcher

Mail

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: An email signed with a revoked certificate may appear valid

Description: S/MIME policy failed to check if a certificate was valid. This issue was addressed by notifying a user if an email was signed with a revoked certificate.

CVE-2016-4689: an anonymous researcher

Media Player

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: A user may be able to view photos and contacts from the lockscreen

Description: A validation issue existed in the handling of media selection. This issue was addressed through improved validation.

CVE-2016-7653

Profiles

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: Opening a maliciously crafted certificate may lead to arbitrary code execution

Description: A memory corruption issue existed in the handling of certificate profiles. This issue was addressed through improved input validation.

CVE-2016-7626: Maksymilian Arciemowicz (cxsecurity.com)

SpringBoard

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: A person with physical access to an iOS device may be able to unlock the device

Description: In some cases, a counter issue existed in the handling of passcode attempts when resetting the passcode. This was addressed through improved state management.

CVE-2016-4781: an anonymous researcher

SpringBoard

Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: A person with physical access to an iOS device may be able to keep the device unlocked

Description: A cleanup issue existed in the handling of Handoff with Siri. This was addressed through improved state management.

CVE-2016-7597: an anonymous researcher

Conclusion

iOS 10.2 includes some major updates for the iOS, but it may not be immediately compelling for all users. Personally, I recommend novice users wait a week to see if the community finds any nasty bugs with 10.2. If things are quiet, take the upgrade next week in order to get the latest security fixes.

Did you update to iOS 10.2 right away? Any issues? Would love to hear from our readers on everything from playing with the new features to upgrade experience!

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3 Responses to Apple iOS 10.2 – Should You Upgrade and What’s Included?

  1. Jack Busch December 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

    TV app seems promising. Unified content search. But then again I also feel like the new apple tv and all its sundries are all just geared toward me spending tons of $$$ on itunes

  2. Connie Dorsey December 15, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

    After updating to 10.2 my icons are not where they should be and I am unable to move them on my iPhone 6s.

    • Dave December 21, 2016 at 11:36 am #

      Updated a week ago, no issues. I had no problems with icon placement or access.

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