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Apple forgot it's already released iPadOS 17.4.1

iPadOS on an iPad

A confusing update to Apple's Developer pages claims that iPadOS 17.4.1 is shipping on March 26, despite having already been released on March 21.

On Tuesday morning, AppleInsider spotted an update on the Apple Releases RSS feed, which lists new updates to Apple's operating systems. Unusually, it stated that iPadOS 17.4.1 would ship at 5 PM GMT (1 PM EDT.)

This is unusual for two reasons, with the main one being that iPadOS 17.4.1 is already available to install, having done so since March 21 alongside updates to iOS 17.4.1 and visionOS 1.1.1. The other is that Apple doesn't pre-announce updates via its RSS feed at all.

iPadOS 17.4.1 software update listing on Apple's Releases page, showing March 26, 2024.
iPadOS 17.4.1 software update listing on Apple's Releases page, showing March 26, 2024.

The official Apple Releases page offers the same date of release as March 26, 2024. Both the RSS and webpage list the build number as 21E236, the same as the week-ago official release and mirroring the build number of iOS 17.4.1.

Not every page offers the March 26 date, as Apple's Restore Images page states March 21, matching the already-released version.

A confusing update

It is unclear why Apple's RSS and web page shows the wrong date, but there could be a few reasons why it's like this.

Following Occam's razor and assuming the simplest explanation, it could be a user error by an employee and entirely a mistake on Apple's part. It's a change that could easily be reverted back to the correct details.

Another reason could be that it's an employee error again, but Apple could actually be preparing a second update release for that date and time. Apple has reissued software updates in the past, such as in July 2023 to rerelease its Rapid Security Response for iOS and macOS.

However, there doesn't appear to be much evidence to indicate Apple had to perform a second release of a granular update for security or performance issues.

The less likely reason is inbound new iPads, as Apple is rumored to be preparing to update its lineup in late March or early April. New hardware releases would be a great reason for Apple to ship a software update for compatibility purposes.

There is enough reason to doubt this is the case, especially since the typical window for Apple to announce hardware via press releases has passed for the day. There have also been claims by one leaker that a March 26 launch won't happen.

While there are still many hours left on Tuesday for an iPad launch to happen, or for a re-release of the update to occur, the smart money is on an employee goof that will probably be rectified later in the day.