AARP Eye Center
If you want your smartphone at its best to fend off hackers and be as speedy as its memory and connection to the internet allow, you’ll want to make sure that you have the latest version of your phone’s operating system.
Big updates to phones’ operating systems often arrive in autumn when Android phone manufacturers and Apple developers unveil their latest models. That’s when you’ll find new, free features debuting for new smartphones that often will work on older-model phones about five years old and younger.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
But incremental updates to all of your smartphone and tablet software happen all year long. Those updates are important to install on your device to mend mistakes that developers make when they create computer code, fix flaws that attackers have found and increase the efficiency of your miniature machine.
Both your operating system and the apps you love are updated regularly. That’s why you might find that your iPhone is using iOS 15.6 instead of just 15 or that your Android smartphone is up to 12.1.0_r18 when you check on its software version.
How to install operating system updates
The easiest way to keep track of those operating system updates is to set your device to keep everything updated automatically.
For an iPhone or iPad. You may have turned on automatic updates when you and the sales associate first set up your phone at the store. To check, tap Settings | scroll to General | Software Update | Automatic Updates.
Make sure the two toggle switches you see are green for “On” to download and install iOS updates. This will allow your device to update automatically overnight while it’s charging and connected to Wi-Fi.
If you see an update pending on the Software Update screen, perhaps because you hadn’t charged your phone the previous night or didn’t have it connected to Wi-Fi, you can tap Install Now to allow it to happen manually even if you’re not hooked up to Wi-Fi or power.
Be aware that updates while using cellphone service, especially if you don’t have a smartphone that runs on the 5G network, can take longer than with Wi-Fi and eat up your data allotment, worrisome if you have a plan that caps your data. Long updates also can drain your battery.