Apple yanks iOS 8 update after crippling iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Within minutes, users began posting complaints to several threads on the iPhone support discussion forum

Apple today released, then quickly pulled, its first update for iOS 8 after customers flooded its support forum with reports that their iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones could no longer connect to a cellular network.

Update: Apple has released the following statement on the issue:

“We have a workaround for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users who lost cellular service and Touch ID functionality today after updating to iOS 8.0.1. Affected users can reinstall iOS 8 through iTunes, for more information visit http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6487.

“We apologise for the great inconvenience experienced by users, and are working around the clock to prepare iOS 8.0.2 with a fix for the issue, and will release it as soon as it is ready in the next few days.”

iOS 8.0.1, which was supposed to fix a host of bugs, including several prominent issues that had garnered press - like one that barred apps relying on Apple's new Healthkit framework - was released around 10am US PT.

Within minutes, users began posting complaints to several threads on the iPhone support discussion forum.

"Looks like iOS 8.0.1 broke my ability to make a phone call and Touch ID on my iPhone 6+," said rgersmrk at 10:25am. PT in the kick-off message to one of the threads.

Confirmation from scores of others quickly poured in.

"Same deal here. No Touch ID and No Cell Service after 8.0.1 update," reported Scott Kelly.

"iPhone 6, 64GB, AT&T, USA. No Touch ID, No Cellular. Tried resetting network settings, tried a hard reboot, tried powering down. No luck," added Chuck Konfrst. "On hold with Apple Support Chat now."

All the users who identified their now-not-working iPhones said that they were either using a new iPhone 6 or the even larger iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple apparently pulled the update around 11:20 am. PT. A Computerworld staffer who owns an iPhone 6 Plus said iOS 8.0.1 was not available shortly around 2:30 pm. ET; another with an iPhone 5 received an "Unable to Verify Update" error message after agreeing to the download.

Several users said that they had been told by Apple support representatives to restore their iPhones using iTunes on a Mac or PC. The steps to do so are:

  • Back up the iPhone to iCloud or using iTunes
  • Power off the phone by pressing and holding the power button
  • Launch iTunes on the PC or Mac
  • Connect the iPhone to the Mac or PC with the Lightning-to-USB cable
  • Press and hold the Home button
  • iTunes will recognize the device as in recovery mode and offer to restore it
  • Restore the iPhone with the backup from iCloud or iTunes

Although an iOS update flop like this is unusual, Apple is in good company: Rival Microsoft has had to pull and later reissue several updates in the last few months, including an August security fix that crippled thousands of Windows 7 PCs.

That didn't mean iPhone owners refrained from blasting Apple for today's failure.

"What a complete disaster!" vented Ian Parkinson on the longest of the pertinent threads, which had been viewed nearly 5000 times and contained more than 160 messages. "I had a new iPhone 6, now I seem to have a new iPod Touch 6. How could Apple let this happen, there are 1000s of people with no phone service?"

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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