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iOS releases have a lifecycle of a year before being superseded by the next release. We're getting close to the halfway mark for iOS 15, with the release of iOS 15.4 coming about a week before that point.
So, where are we in terms of stability and performance? Has Apple finally got all the major bugs nailed down, so it's plain sailing from here, or is that stable release still eluding iPhone users?
iOS 15.4 is an interesting release because not only is it a bug fix release, but it also adds a bunch of new features such as Face ID unlocking while wearing a mask (without the need for an Apple Watch). Apple has been rolling out new features mid iOS release cycle for a few years now, instead of waiting a year to release new features.
But how's that working out for Apple? Or, maybe more importantly, how's that working out for iPhone users?
Getting drip-fed new features is cool. It's nice that Apple is able to roll out features like Face ID unlock with a mask when it's ready as opposed to having to wait for a major release.
In the testing that I've been carrying out, iOS 15.4 is a little buggy. While battery life seems good, I'm noticing both a lag when using the iOS interface and when unlocking while wearing a mask. I've also had a situation occur several times where the iPhone seems to unlock but then seems stuck on the lock screen.
I've also noticed a problem with AirPods and Siri announcements causing some apps (the Audible app s very prone to this) to crash. Not sure if this is an app issue or an iOS problem yet.
And this is an excellent word to describe how iOS has felt for the past few years.
It's felt like iOS has been in a continual state of flux for years now -- an endless stream of updates, new features, bug fixes, and new bugs.
A continual state of flux.
Islands of stability feel few and far between.
iOS 15.4 isn't a bad release. It's actually quite a good release as iOS 15 releases go. There have been some stinkers (I'm thinking about you, iOS 15.2).
But it's also far from fine.
And there's no sign of things getting better. It's a cycle of things getting a bit better, a bit worse, back and forth.
But because Apple combines new features, bug fixes, and security fixes into a single update, it's not possible for iPhone users to safely ignore releases.
Everyone goes along for the ride.
So, should you install iOS 15.4?
If nothing else, you're getting three dozen security fixes, which is a lot. You also get new features (and new emojis -- and who doesn't want more emojis?).
Also, apart from the laggy user interface, this update is moving in the right direction -- in the direction of stability. I suspect we'll have a reasonably solid iOS 15 in a few weeks.
In time for iOS 16 to come along and make things annoying again.