Apple stopped signing iOS 17.3.1, leaving iOS 17.4 as the only option for iPhone owners

Apple's no longer signing the iOS 17.3.1 iPhone software which means it can no longer be installed. The iOS 17.4 release is now the only one available.

1 minute & 39 seconds read time

If you're an iPhone owner who hasn't yet updated to iOS 17.3.1, you never will. That's because Apple has now decided to stop signing the update which means that it can no longer be installed, even if you have the IPSW file required to do so.

Whenever an iPhone has its iOS operating system updated or downgraded, the phone phones home to Apple's servers to ensure that the software is valid. If Apple says that it is, the installation can continue. But if Apple says otherwise, the update will not install and there is no way to get around that. That's what has happened with iOS 17.3.1 which means that the only version of iOS currently available to iPhone owners is the latest iOS 17.4 release.

Apple stopped signing iOS 17.3.1, leaving iOS 17.4 as the only option for iPhone owners 02

Apple regularly stops signing older versions of iOS in an attempt to ensure that as many people as possible are using the latest and greatest version of its software. There are a few reasons that it might want to do that.

At the top of the list is to ensure that people cannot install a less secure version of iOS. Specifically, it might be to prevent a jailbreak from being used via an exploit found in an iOS release or it could be to prevent a security flaw being exploited to gain access to data. Whatever the reason, security can be the main driver behind Apple's decision to stop singing updates.

Another reason to stop singing older versions of iOS is to ensure that as many people as possible have access to the latest version of the iOS software in terms of features and APIs. In the case of iOS 17.4, Apple has a good reason to ensure people are using it - particularly in the EU. The update enables support for third-party app stores and more in an attempt to comply with the European Union's Digital Markets Act. With that in mind, it makes sense for Apple to try and push people towards that update rather than allow them to install iOS 17.3.1, a release that doesn't have the same DMA-satisfying capabilities.

The iOS 17.4 update won't remain the newest for long of course. There is already talk of Apple beta testing iOS 17.5 and iOS 17.4.1 is also thought to be around the corner. After that, Apple is likely to debut the iOS 18 software update during the annual WWDC event in June before rolling it out to the public later this year.

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Based in the UK, Oliver has been writing about technology, entertainment, and games for more than a decade. If there's something with a battery or a plug, he's interested. After spending too much money building gaming PCs, Oliver switched to Apple and the Mac - and now spends too much on those instead.

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