Rapid Security Response: Everything you need to know for iPhone, iPad and Mac

iPad Rapid Security Response in iPadOS 16.4
(Image credit: iMore)

While Rapid Security Response Updates (RSR) was a feature announced alongside iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS 13 Ventura back at WWDC 2022 in June, it's only been available to users running beta versions of these updates so far.

It looks as though Apple is still refining these minor optional updates, which can plug security holes in exploits that it's been made aware of, without having to roll out a new software update for certain devices.

Apple currently has a support document that lists all of the security updates that have been released since 2020, crediting those who alerted the company to certain exploits. As RSR is still in testing with the betas of iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4 and macOS 13.3, it's not ready to be rolled out just yet.

But that doesn't mean that some users may get confused as to what RSR really means, which is why we've created the below guide to help you get to grips with what the feature means for your device.

What is Rapid Security Response?

Most of us have been in a situation with our devices over the years, where a software update has been made available that only says - "Includes important bug and security fixes."

Apple has been including these in smaller updates for its devices, such as iOS 12.5.7. While iOS 12 was a major release that came out in 2018, a major security exploit was discovered only recently, which is why devices still running on iOS 12 needed to be updated to this version.

However, this is where RSR comes in, where these are separate from major versions and can help plug in exploits without updating the version number of that iOS release.

But this doesn't apply to just iOS - both iPadOS and macOS Ventura will also be getting RSR, and it looks as though Apple is still tinkering with how often it will roll these out, and whether it will be optional to download.

When will it be available for everyone?

There's currently no word from Apple on when RSR will arrive for everyone. It's one of the last new features announced at WWDC in June 2022 that's yet to be rolled out.

Whether it will arrive with the final version of iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4 and macOS 13.3 in the coming weeks, a future version, or even with the next major software releases which could be announced at WWDC in June again.

However, with Apple still updating the language of RSR in the Software update screen, and, according to MacRumors, wording that is alluding to being able to uninstall these security updates if they've been crashing apps, we may be seeing this arrive in May instead, with a new version that will follow iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4 and macOS 13.3 once these have been rolled out to everyone.

A feature that could help Apple as well as you

iOS Automatic Updates setting displayed on an iPhone.

(Image credit: Future)

Daryl Baxter, Features Editor

Sometimes installing major software updates, however big or small in their release notes, can be a hassle. Even for developers, some apps can break just because of a new version number in iOS, causing extra work for them. But with RSR, this could cut out the stress for everyone by making these security updates optional.

I remember back when I had a Gaming PC, constant pop-ups would appear as I'd be running Windows 11 with security updates. While these were small to download, I felt as though I was downloading these as often as I was buying Steam games each week.

But Apple has always rolled out security fixes with major releases, and only rarely, very minor updates to resolve some software bugs, alongside plugging in a couple of security holes.

Introducing RSR will help everyone, and, as they're optional updates for beta testers currently, these won't require users to install iOS 16.4.2.8 if some are still using this release in 2026.

Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.