That’s the first thought you might have when a notification appears on your i Phone or i Pad prompting you to download a "Carrier Settings Update." If you’re like me, you’ll shrug and tap the Update button (YOLO! But others might be a little more wary, and want to know what the update is for and whether it’s safe to download before taking any action.Unfortunately, getting answers to these questions is much harder than it should be.The updates are largely used to add new features or enhance the performance.This can include adding support for upgrades made to a carrier’s network or the rollout of new functionality like voice-over-LTE, which promises to deliver better-sounding voice calls. For example, a carrier update was issued after a bug was found on the Verizon i Phone 5s that was causing the phone to use cellular data while connected to a Wi-Fi network.Google and Microsoft also make carrier-related changes to their Android and Windows Phone devices, respectively, but they’re folded into a more general software or maintenance update.As Apple describes it on its support site, "Carrier settings updates are small files that can include updates from Apple and your carrier to carrier-related settings, such as network, calling, cellular data, messaging, personal hotspot, and voicemail settings." In other words, they handle anything related to how your device connects and communicates to your carrier’s network and any related services.If all else fails, a Google search might lead to more specifics from an Apple or carrier-related user forum or site.
Waiting to install an update, or just ignoring the alerts, probably won’t cause any major problems.In some cases, a provider might share details directly to the customer.Other times, the carrier might provide information on its website, though this usually involves digging through a myriad of support pages.Another instance where a carrier settings update may occur is when you swap out SIM cards.Let’s say you’ve been using an unlocked i Phone on AT&T’s network and decide to switch over to T-Mobile.