Apple apparently plans to accelerate and simplify the distribution of security updates for iOS. This should be achieved by publishing small security updates that can be distributed independently of the regular iOS updates. Android has been using this technology for a long time to keep the devices reasonably secure.
One of the great strengths of iOS is the comparatively excellent up-to-dateness of the installation base: within a few months, the majority of all iPhone users worldwide are always using the latest iOS version, here we have last seen the spread of iOS 14 reported.
However, this also results in a potential weakness that Android does not have: Although iOS regularly receives updates outside of the major major versions, these are released every few months. Urgent security updates become difficult this way, but they are occasionally necessary, which was only recently revealed when a critical loophole in WebKit had to be closed by patch on iOS 14.4.1.
Apple could be more effective here in the future. The iOS 14.5 Beta 4 indicates corresponding changes.
Are there any small security updates coming to iPhones soon?
The latest beta has a modified update mechanism, which allows users to determine whether they want to automatically download and install regular security updates or full iOS updates. The installation of a small security update would be much faster; these updates are standard on Android because most devices there no longer receive the next major version. They are often published monthly.
Apple is basically also familiar with this approach: iOS 12, for example, received security updates long after iOS 13 and 14 were released, and this is not uncommon on the Mac either.
In the future, users could also be given the option of consciously opting out of an update to iOS 15 and only receiving further published iOS 14 security updates.
It remains to be seen whether and when this innovation will come to all users.