Apple iOS 16.4.1 (a) Rapid Security Response Release: Should You Upgrade?

Apple iOS 16


Apple iOS 16.4.1 (a) is something completely new: the first Rapid Security Response (RSR) release for iPhones and iPads. RSR releases are the new way Apple will distribute dedicated security updates and can be spotted by the letter they add to the current release version. So how did the first RSR go? Not smoothly. Here’s everything you need to know.

Tip: bookmark this page because I will keep it up-to-date if/when new problems are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week.

05/09 Update: Final verdict below.

Who Is It For?

Apple iOS 16.4.1 (a) is available for all iOS 16-compatible devices, that means the iPhone 8, iPhone X and newer. iOS 16 dropped support for the iPhone 6S and 7 ranges and the iPod Touch. iOS 15.7.5 is the most recent update to protect older devices, but Apple will not bring RSR updates to iOS 15.

If you don’t receive an update notification, you can trigger RSR updates the same way you would standard iOS releases by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. If you are running newer beta software (see ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you may have to unenroll your device before RSR updates appear.

Note: this guide is not focused on older iOS updates, iPadOS or macOS, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides.

The Deal Breakers

The first 24 hours have been rocky for iOS 16.4.1 (a) and iPadOS 16.4.1 (a), with widespread reports of users being unable to install the update. This problem also applies to macOS 13.3.1 (a).

The good news is no significant problems have been reported by users who have managed to upgrade. This should be a consistent theme, with RSR updates designed to be smaller and less disruptive than previous iOS security patches.

iOS 16.4.1 (a) is Apple’s first Rapid Security Response release for iPhones and iPads…


So What Do You Get?

Apple’s iOS 16.4.1 (a) comes with no release notes. In fact, all Apple has published is a general guide to Rapid Response Releases themselves:

We will have to get used to this. Apple can justifiably argue that it doesn’t want to publish information about the vulnerabilities RSR updates patch until a majority of users have had the chance to upgrade. Will we get the details later? We’re in uncharted territory here so only time will tell.

Apple iOS 16.4.1 (a) Verdict: Update (if you can)

The problems with iOS 16.4.1 (a) revolve around its installation, but Apple should solve this over the next 24/48 hours. Moreover, it appears to be smooth sailing for those who have managed to update.

What is frustrating, however, is not knowing what the patch includes. A Rapid Security Response implies a serious security vulnerability has been discovered, but whether it is something that is potentially serious or being actively exploited, we simply don’t know. For most users, this won’t be a problem, but for those with lower trust levels, it may be hard to swallow.

As with regular iOS updates, I will deliver my final verdict on Apple’s first Rapid Security Response in one week. So bookmark this page.

05/09 Update: One week on, as expected, the upgrade process for iOS 14.6.1 (a) has been smooth. I am being told of exceptions, notably one reader stated that his partner’s iPhone 12 mini has been freezing since the update and requires locking and reopening to fix, but this is an isolated case so far. Given the seriousness of this update (and why it is a Rapid Security Response), I recommend that all iPhone owners upgrade.

The Road Ahead

iOS 17 will be unveiled at WWC on June 5. It is expected to include a major redesign of Control Center and several core apps. Before then, iOS 16.5 will arrive, beta four was released to testers today so it should only be another few weeks.

iOS 16.5 isn’t as significant as its name implies and will only add a sports tab to Apple News and a screen recording voice command to Siri. If you want to beta test major iOS updates ahead of their public release, you sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program here.


Follow Gordon on Facebook

MORE FROM FORBESApple iOS 16.4.1 Release: Should You Upgrade?By Gordon Kelly