Minor iOS 8.1.3 Update Likely Coming Next Week [Updated]
In mid-December, we reported that Apple was working on a minor iOS 8.1.3 update as developers test iOS 8.2, and it appears that the iOS 8.1.3 update could be close to seeing a public release.
According to BGR's sources, Apple is planning on debuting an iOS 8 software update "sometime in the next week" and while the site cannot confirm whether it's a new beta or a public release, our own data suggests the upcoming update is most likely iOS 8.1.3.
Over the course of the past week, MacRumors has seen an increase in visits from devices on Apple's networks that identify themselves as running iOS 8.1.3, and as of yesterday, that number jumped significantly, suggesting a larger number of Apple employees are now testing the software ahead of a public launch.
The first hints of iOS 8.1.3 appeared on December 8 just ahead of the release of iOS 8.1.2, and while initial visit numbers were in the dozens for much of the month, we are now seeing hundreds of visits from devices that are running iOS 8.1.3.
We are also seeing a larger number of general devices (not specifically from Apple-based networks) running iOS 8.1.3 and while there are likely some faked identifiers in the general pool of web visitors, an increased number of visits directly from Apple networks has historically hinted at Apple's software development plans.
Like iOS 8.1.2, which fixed a ringtone issue along with other bugs, iOS 8.1.3 is expected to be a minor update that bundles in small bug fixes and performance improvements. As with the previous release, iOS 8.1.3 is likely to be launched to the public without a beta test.
iOS 8's next major update is iOS 8.2 with the WatchKit SDK, which was seeded to developers in November. As an update that introduces significant system changes, iOS 8.2 will see an extended beta testing period before launching alongside the upcoming Apple Watch. It remains unknown when Apple plans to debut the Apple Watch, but recent rumors have hinted at a March launch.
Aside from iOS 8.1.3 and iOS 8.2, Apple employees also appear to be testing both iOS 8.3 and iOS 9, but visits from devices running those versions of iOS remain low.
Update: According to a source who spoke to MacRumors, Apple on Wednesday seeded iOS 8.1.3 build 12B460 to select retail employees for testing, which explains the increase in visits we've seen from devices running the 8.1.3 software.
Apple has involved its retail employees in OS X testing for several years, but the early release of iOS 8.1.3 marks the first time Apple's retail workers have received access to iOS for testing purposes. Apple has not specified what changes are in iOS 8.1.3 or when it will be released.
Update 2: Our source has clarified that iOS 8.1.3 was actually released to employees on Wednesday, January 7, not Monday, and the software appears to include only under-the-hood bug fixes that are not readily apparent.