Apple Launches Battery Drain Bug Fix for iPhone and iPad in iOS 15.4.1 + More

iPhone Charging with Low Battery Indicator Credit: Primakov / Shutterstock
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Apple has just pushed out a full slate of “sub-point” maintenance releases for its last big software updates for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and even the Apple TV and HomePod.

The collection includes quite a list of fixes and validates why most folks don’t get immediate automatic software updates. This includes battery problems and Bluetooth issues, plus some critical security patches.

For many iPhone and iPad users, the most significant part of iOS 15.4.1 and iPadOS 15.4.1 addresses a battery drain bug plaguing some who updated to the 15.4 release last month.

While we’re not sure how widespread this issue was — we didn’t experience it ourselves — it was clearly affecting enough iPhone and iPad users for Apple to specifically address the problem and mention that in its release notes, which otherwise only mention fixes for accessibility accessories:

  • Battery may drain more quickly than expected after updating to iOS/iPadOS 15.4
  • Braille devices may become unresponsive while navigating text or displaying an alert
  • Made for iPhone/iPad hearing devices may lose connection within some third-party apps

As we’ve previously mentioned, it’s not uncommon to encounter poorer battery life immediately following an iOS update. Several background processes often run after an update to optimize, reindex, and recalibrate things. While this is more common during major iOS releases (e.g., going from iOS 14 to iOS 15), it can happen with point releases, too, depending on what’s changed.

Last month, Apple Support also sent out several Tweets advising customers that it’s normal for users to see a higher battery drain after an update, adding that things should stabilize after about 48 hours.

In the case of iOS 15.4, however, there are still enough reports of poor battery life even weeks later that there was obviously something going on here that Apple had to fix.

watchOS 8.5.1

Apple also released an update to watchOS 8.5.1, but unfortunately, it’s hard to say whether the news will be quite as good for Apple Watch users.

Earlier this week, we reported that many Apple Watch owners were experiencing slow charging times. Numerous users of the latest Series 7 model weren’t getting the promised fast charging, and some owners of Series 6, SE, and older models were getting even slower charging speeds than normal.

Unlike iOS 15.4.1, however, Apple has made no mention of fixing this in the release notes, which only offer the generic mention of “bug fixes and performance improvements.” That doesn’t mean it’s not fixed, of course; we’re just going to have to wait and see.

macOS 12.3.1

Last month’s macOS 12.3 release was pretty enticing, as it brought with it the long-awaited Universal Control feature. Sadly, it also brought a few bugs along for the ride.

We saw reports last month of users having problems with some Bluetooth devices, particularly game controllers. It wasn’t entirely clear what was going on, but it looks like Apple has identified the issue while also resolving an issue with secondary displays on the Intel-based Mac mini.

  • USB-C or Thunderbolt external display does not turn on when connected to Mac mini (2018) as a second display
  • Bluetooth devices, such as game controllers, may disconnect from your Mac after playing audio through some Beats headphones.

According to AppleInsider, the macOS 12.3.1 update also includes some undocumented fixes for problems affecting users of third-party PCI-E graphics cards.

Other Updates

Apple has also released tvOS 15.4.1 and HomePod software 15.4.1. While the tvOS release notes don’t have much to say beyond the usual “bug fixes and performance improvements,” the HomePod update addresses an issue that Apple found with controlling HomeKit-enabled accessories via Siri.

Since the HomePod serves as a HomeKit Home Hub and the brains behind Siri on third-party accessories, this issue likely went beyond Siri commands issued to the HomePod itself.

Important Security Patches

If the bug fixes aren’t enough to convince you to take the plunge, the fact that Apple has once again fixed some critical security vulnerabilities should be — especially since Apple says these may have been actively exploited.

While watchOS and tvOS users are seemingly safe from these latest vulnerabilities, the iOS/iPadOS 15.4.1 update patches a problem with the AppleAVD framework that could have “allowed an application to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges.”

macOS 12.3.1 appears to patch the same issue with AppleAVD and addresses an Intel Graphics Driver issue that could have allowed an application to read kernel memory. This problem presumably doesn’t affect Apple’s M1 Macs. Still, for users on Intel Macs, it could have allowed an app to read all manner of confidential information sitting around in your system’s memory, including things like passwords.

Apple credits “an anonymous researcher” for discovering these bugs, but the most important thing is that there’s a good chance that hackers already know about these holes and know how to take advantage of them. That’s reason enough to install iOS/iPadOS 15.4.1 and macOS 12.3.1 right away.

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