Why is Apple planning a surprise iOS update?

Is Apple laying the groundwork for a new way to move forward? Perhaps. Does Apple want to add some last-minute features to iOS 14? Maybe.

An eagle-eyed iPhone dev has spotted that Apple could be preparing the way for a surprise iOS update.

But why?

Developer Brendan Shanks spotted a reference to an as-yet unreleased version of iOS 14 -- iOS 14.8 -- in a beta of Apple's Xcode software development platform.

This is unusual given that iOS 15 is currently in the later stages of beta testing and that we're expecting a release early fall.

So, what's going to be in this update?

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Well, it's important to remember that Apple has said that come the release of iOS 15, users will be able to stay on iOS 14 and continue to get updates.

Here's what Apple says will happen.

iOS now offers a choice between two software update versions in the Settings app. You can update to the latest version of iOS 15 as soon as it's released for the latest features and most complete set of security updates. Or continue on iOS 14 and still get important security updates until you're ready to upgrade to the next major version.

The same is true for iPadOS 15 too.

My bet here is that Apple wants to do two things before iOS 15 is released.

First, Apple may need to set the groundwork in place in iOS 14 to give users the choice as to whether they upgrade to iOS 15 or stay on iOS 14. This is not something that iOS can currently handle (at least, as far as we are aware of).

On top of that, it's possible that Apple wants to add some features to iOS 14 before moving onto iOS 15. Perhaps these are some new end-user features, or Apple could be planning on rolling out its child sexual abuse material (CSAM) detection system to iOS 14.

At this point, we just don't know.

But the fact that Apple is taking iOS in a different direction come iOS 15 in allowing users to stick with iOS 14 is interesting, and it seems highly likely that this is why Apple needs an iOS 14.8 update.

We'll have to wait and see.