Getting that notification that it's time to update your phone once again never ceases to be annoying. My phone works fine just the way it is, you think to yourself, and you put off the software update until another day. Well, it's that time again. Apple just released iOS 9.3, so it's time for iPhone owners to connect their phone to a Wi-Fi network and let it update for five minutes. The update features a couple of useful new features, but there are other reasons why you should update your phone, and your apps, in a timely fashion. As irritating as they are, software updates are important, and we should start getting in the habit of following through on those notifications. Here's why: The most important reason to keep your phone and computer up to date is security. There are flaws with any software system — and it's just a matter of time before someone discovers them. Companies such as Apple and Google, as well as major apps, all have employees whose job is to try to hack into their own product (Google even has an entire badass team of women white hat hackers that do this). Their goal is to discover and fix flaws before malicious hackers can take an advantage of them. It's like a constant cat-and-mouse game. Hopefully, the security researchers (the aforementioned white hat hackers) figure out the issues first, but occasionally criminals get creative, or identify a security hole first. Even if an app update doesn't introduce many new features, and is just "improvements and bug fixes," it's still worth a download; it could prevent your phone from being hacked, and prevent your data from being shared with the world. In the news now is Apple's battle against the FBI over device encryption. A judge ordered Apple to decrypt a device used by one of the terrorists in last year's San Bernardino, CA attacks. Apple is refusing because the solution the FBI is asking for would actually endanger the privacy and security of all iPhone owners. Why am I bringing this up? Yesterday, security researchers discovered a flaw in Apple's encryption scheme that made photos and videos you send via iMessage vulnerable to attackers. But with iOS 9.3 — the update also released yesterday — that flaw is fixed.
There are other reasons to keep your phone, desktop computer, and their corresponding software up to date, too. Developers work hard to come up with cool new features that will make your life easier, and if you don't update, you won't be able to take advantage of those. With Facebook, for example, recent updates brought the ability to stream live video. With YouTube's latest update, out today, it finally incorporates split screen mode on the iPad, so you can watch video while working on something else (multitasking FTW). And in iOS 9.3, there's a new "Night Shift" mode you can switch on that makes your phone screen a warmer, more sleep-friendly hue once the sun goes down. Luckily for apps, you can turn on automatic downloads so you never have to think about updating an app again — they'll update on their own (just be sure to keep "Use Cellular Data" switched off so your cell phone bill doesn't take a toll). But as for your mobile or desktop OS, you have to give the device permission, accept the updated agreement terms, and then go through with the download. Once it's done though, your device should run faster and more smoothly than before. But most importantly, it should be more secure.