After testing out its new type of software release over the past few months on beta software, Apple has finally released its first public Rapid Security Response update on devices running latest versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. This would be iOS 16.4.1, iPadOS 16.4.1, and macOS 13.3.1. These are rather tiny in size compared to regular software updates that appear on these devices. Apple for once, has not published release notes that detail what has been fixed with a given update. However, Apple has explained what this type update does and why it exists.
This new type of software release is currently only available for iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices. These are meant to deliver urgent security updates in the same way Google delivers Android security patches to Android-powered devices. Likewise, Apple’s Rapid Security Response updates are also smaller in size. The update we received on our iPhone 14 Pro review unit was 85.2MB in size, but these could also be smaller as seen in some past betas.
Apple claims that these updates could bring about a number of security improvements to the Safari browser, the WebKit framework stack, or other critical system libraries. However, it’s mostly in place to take care of more urgent security issues such as exploits that are either reported or exist in the wild.
The device will prompt for a restart inorder for the update to be applied, when Settings for software updates have been set to default. Users can also choose to opt out of these security updates if they wish to. These updates are switched on by default after a user installs iOS 16.4.1, iPadOS 16.4.1, and macOS 13.3.1 on their respective devices. They will need to head to Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates> and toggle off Security Responses & System files, to turn off these smaller software updates. Those who choose to opt out of these Rapid Response Security updates will eventually receive the same security patches in the next regular software update.
Apple also explained that a device that has been recently updated with a Rapid Security Response update, will have a slightly different name or version number. This can be identified with a letter, which appears after the software version number, like with the current update on iPhone it appears as iOS 16.4.1 (a). Apple also lets users remove a security update, that may have been automatically applied (since it is switched on by default). A user can head to Settings > About > iOS Version > (Settings > General > About > macOS> “i” on macOS) and tap on Remove Security Response if they need to.