Apple today began rolling out its new Rapid Security Responses feature to iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 beta testers. The mechanism, which is designed to accelerate the delivery of security solutions on iPhone, iPad and Mac, was announced at WWDC and began testing in October and appears to be ready for use, although we don’t yet know when it will happen. be made available to macOS testers first.
Like the Twitter account Appleosophy reports, this initial Rapid Security Response does not contain actual security content. In Apple’s words, it’s “for testing purposes only.”
But future updates of this kind could be very important. Right now, Apple’s only way to sow patches for security vulnerabilities is through updates to iOS, iPadOS, or macOS, such as iOS 16.1 or macoS 13.0.1. The new mechanism allows the company to segregate the patches and distribute them more quickly and flexibly without having to update the entire operating system. If a Rapid Security Response is available for the version of iOS already running on your device, it will be adopted (assuming you have Rapid Security Responses enabled). You just need to quickly install and reboot your device (or quit Safari if the solution is browser related) to get the security fixes.
Apple already has an advantage over Google’s Android platform when it comes to distributing security patches as its users are more diligent about installing updates. (They also get nagged about updating more often.) However, Google has been providing monthly security updates since 2015, while Apple’s come much less frequently. This new feature further speeds up the company’s response to flaws and vulnerabilities, and hopefully bugs can be stopped before they can do any damage.