• June 3, 2023

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Apple’s iOS 16 was announced this week at one of the biggest software events of the year, the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Due to be released this Fall, iOS 16 comes with a bunch of brilliant new iPhone features, one of which could be game-changing for your security.

Apple, like many of its competitors—looking at you Microsoft and Google—has been issuing multiple emergency security updates over the last couple of years.

These updates sometimes come as part of the wider iPhone point upgrade alongside new features, but Apple has been issuing security-only updates of late. It’s especially important that these fixes are timely when a security issue is already being used to attack iPhones.

As I have mentioned before, even if you have automatic updates turned on, iOS upgrades can take a while to install on iPhones. The best way to ensure you are secure is to keep checking for iOS updates, and apply them manually.


But from iOS 16, even that might not be necessary as it looks like real-time security updates will be available to the iPhone users who want or need them, via a new feature called Rapid Security Response. From iOS 16, this new iPhone feature will apply important security patches on the fly, and outside of version updates.

New iPhone feature in iOS 16 beta

Although it was only mentioned in passing during WWDC, the new feature is appearing in the iOS 16 beta version in the Automatic Updates menu under Install System and Data Files. The details are sparse, but this will see patches pushed to iPhones by default—without the need to restart your phone—and outside of the version updates when needed, Apple explains on a preview page.

Describing Rapid Security Response, Apple says:

“Get important security improvements to your devices even faster. This isn’t a standard software update. These improvements can be applied automatically between normal updates—without a restart.”

The feature is game-changing for iPhone security, but it also fits a general industry shift, says Sean Wright, a principal application security engineer. “Having automation is key for security since it helps with adoption—users don’t have to do anything.”

“This is how software is being developed and deployed in the modern world—smaller updates mean there is less to go wrong,” Wright adds.

Apple’s iOS 16 is just a few months away and with game-changing features like this, it’s an exciting time—if, of course, it works in practice.

Check back for more analysis of the iOS 16 privacy and security features arriving this Fall, and click on the blue “Follow” button on my profile to ensure you don’t miss anything.


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