If you want to stay on top of the latest iOS system software updates but don’t like bothering with manually installing the software updates, or you routinely fall behind, you might want to consider automating the installation process of iOS software updates. Thanks to a new feature in iOS, you can set an iPhone or iPad to automatically install updates to iOS system software.
This feature is very easy to use and setup. You’ll need any iPhone or iPad with iOS 12.0 or newer, and the iPhone or iPad must be plugged in and charging in order to be able to install the software updates. The rest is pretty much taken care of on its own once you have this setting configured, so here’s how to set up automatic iOS system software updates.
How to Enable Automatic iOS Updates for System Software on iPhone or iPad
With Automatic Updates enabled in iOS, the iOS software update will download itself and install itself automatically overnight when the iPhone or iPad is not in use, as long as it’s connected to a charger and wi-fi. Here’s how to enable automatic iOS system software
- Open the “Settings” app in iOS
- Go to “General” and then to “Software Update”, then tap on “Automatic Updates”
- Toggle the Automatic Updates switch to the ON position to enable automatic iOS updates
That’s it, now your iPhone or iPad will download and install any available iOS software updates as they arrive. Note this is just the iOS system software that will be automatically updated, and not the apps on the device (though you can set automatic app updates too, more on that in a moment).
It is strongly recommended to have iCloud backups enabled on iPhone or iPad if you are going to use this setting, just like it’s strongly recommended to backup any iOS device before installing any system software update. Failure to backup a device may lead to permanent data loss, so don’t skip the backup process.
Note the iPhone or iPad must be connected to wi-fi, and plugged in and charging for automatic iOS updates to work. If the device is disconnected from wi-fi or not charging, it will not run software updates. Similarly if there are no software updates available, nothing will be installed.
If you like the idea of automating iOS system software updates, you’ll probably also be fond of automatically updating apps in iOS too so that everything is always up to date on your device. The two features work quite well together, ensuring your iPhone or iPad will always have the latest system software and app updates installed. Again, just be sure you have enabled backups to iCloud in iOS automatically as well to prevent theoretical data loss scenarios.
Whether or not you want your iPhone or iPad to automatically install system software updates, or app updates, in the background for you is entirely a matter of personal opinion. Some users will really appreciate the convenience, while others prefer to have a more hands-on approach so that they can opt in and out of select software updates as deemed necessary. There’s certainly nothing wrong with manually installing iOS updates when they are available either, just like you can update iOS apps as needed or all at once, or never at all if you prefer to keep older software for whatever reason.
While this automatic iOS system updates feature is new to iOS 12 and later, earlier versions of iOS can get a similar effect of automated iOS installs though they require the user to choose the “Later” and “Install Tonight” option at the iOS software update alert screen that appears.
Disabling iOS Automatic System Software Updates
Like most other features in iOS, you can also change course and disable automatic iOS system software updates if you decide to do so at a later time.
- Open the “Settings” app and go to “General” and then to “Software Update”
- Choose “Automatic Updates” and toggle the switch to the OFF position
With the iOS automatic software update feature disabled, you’ll need to manually update system software when it becomes available again. And if you’re turning off automatic iOS system software updates, you might want to disable automatic app updates too while in iOS Settings.