updated 07:12 pm EST, Wed February 26, 2014
Critical SSL security fix will be on majority of devices by next week
[Updated with more recent statistics from Chitika] One of Apple's biggest advantages over other mobile platforms is its ability to update its OS quickly, and more crucially -- particularly in the case of the rare security issue -- to deploy the update across all compatible devices rapidly, rather than have to wait weeks or months for carriers and partners to incorporate their own apps and other processes and "skins" into the fix. Updted stats from mobile ad analysts Chitika show that more than 25.9 percent of all North American iDevices were already running the latest version within four days of its release.
Updated four-day adoption statistics
The latest version of iOS 7, v7.0.6, offered both a critical fix for an SSL-related vulnerability and other bug fixes for older iPhone owners, most of which were overshadowed by the security concerns. The flaw in iOS 6 and 7's implementation of SSL -- also seen in OS X, and patched there on Tuesday -- allowed the possibility of "man in the middle" attacks that could compromise sensitive information being sent on insecure or public Wi-Fi networks, making the update more important than usual.
Chitika, using data based on multiple-millions of US and Canadian online ad impressions seen in ads supplied by its own ad network, believes that 13.3 percent of North American iPhones and iPads were already running the 7.0.6 within 48 hours of the patch being made available. This is a typical response among iOS device owners, who are very quick to upgrade when an OS update is available. The figure has now doubled after four days.
The company predicts that by sometime next week, a majority of active devices will be running the latest version, greatly decreasing the possibility of any successful attacks on iOS devices. Likewise, Mac owners will swiftly update their Mavericks-based Macs, further diminishing any threat.
The overall trend of iOS update is accelerating. The previous most recent update, iOS 7.0.4, was (as of Sunday, February 23) on a majority of iOS devices in North America at 54.1 percent, and combined with other versions of the current release (iOS 7) accounted for 84 percent of iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices. If 7.0.6 does reach majority status in (as expected) another four days or less, it will demonstrate the growth in iOS adoption by users -- by way of contrast, iOS 5.1.1 (which also featured a vital security patch) took three weeks to reach a majority position.
The report also revealed that iPhone owners were quicker to update than iPad owners. The 7.0.6 update was on more than 14.5 percent of iPhones within 48 hours, while only 12.3 percent of iPad owners had upgraded. Both groups, however, had strong majorities running at least the current major release, some version of iOS 7. By comparison, only 1.8 percent of Android devices are running the most recent major release. Apple is expected to release a more significant iOS bug-fix update, version 7.1, next month -- however it is strongly urging users not to wait and to download the respective OS X and iOS security updates immediately.