Uncovering the secrets of iOS 17.2.1: A closer look at its mysteries

It’s been a busy few days for Apple’s iOS engineers. Hot on the heels of the release of iOS 17.2 for the iPhone — an update that contained a bunch of bug fixes and new features, such as the Journal app — Apple then pushed out iOS 17.2.1, which fixed… well, we don’t really know what this update fixed. This mystery has prompted a lot of questions from readers who are wondering what this update might contain. The first place I check when a mysterious update lands is Apple’s security releases page, which provides details of any security patches within a few hours of an update being made available. Here we get the note that “[t]his update has no published CVE entries,” which might lead you to conclude that the refresh doesn’t contain any security fixes. However, a CVE, which stands for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, is a system maintained by not-for-profit organization MITRE Corporation to catalog publicly known information security flaws. So, all we can read into the statement about “no published CVE entries” is that the update does not relate to any of the catalogued CVE vulnerabilities, but might relate to some other security or privacy issue. And the confusion doesn’t end there. While the English release notes for iOS 17.2.1 contains the vague “this update provides important bug fixes and is recommended for all users,” the Japanese and Chinese release apparently mentions a fix for a battery drain issue. To me, news of that potential issue is surprising, as most of what I’ve been hearing about battery life on iOS 17.2 has been positive. If this update is being run to deal with a battery issue, then I suspect it’s for something niche, such as some testing or diagnostic code that was left over from the beta and wasn’t removed. Of course, it’s also possible that this update is simply a boring bug fix that Apple wants to push out to iPhones before a whole bunch of them get opened on Christmas morning. The update could even be related to the process of setting up a new device. Whatever the reason for the release, tap on Settings > General, then Software Update, get the update installed, and move on with life. The next big update — iOS 17.3 — is likely to land in February next year.