10 New Features iOS 16.6 Is Bringing to Your iPhone in Apple’s Next Software Update « iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks

Apple already released the iOS 17 beta to developers, but that doesn’t mean the company’s done updating iOS 16. There’s already a new iOS 16.6 software update in the works, and it might come with an important feature for your iPhone that’s been highly anticipated since it was announced last year.

1. Contact Key Verification for iMessage

The highly anticipated feature, Contact Key Verification for iMessage, was announced by Apple on Dec. 7, 2022, alongside Security Keys for Apple ID and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, and iOS 16.6’s beta code holds the first clues to Contact Key Verification’s future arrival. In fact, these Contact Key Verification hints are the only noticeable additions on iOS 16.6 so far.

On iOS 16.6 beta 1, if you search the Settings app for the feature, it’ll show up in the results. However, tapping it opens the Apple ID settings without a Contact Key Verification option visible. Apple also baked a URL scheme for Contact Key Verification (seen below) into the first beta. As with the search result, it also just takes you to the Apple ID settings since the submenu doesn’t exist yet.


These clues to Contact Key Verification’s materialization were removed by Apple on iOS 16.6 beta 2. A search in Settings no longer shows it, and the bundle that listed the URL scheme was removed from the preference manifests.

Contact Key Verification is similar to Signal’s safety number system in that it’s meant to assure you that you’re talking with who you think you’re talking with. Like Signal’s safety number, which provides a shareable numerical fingerprint that identifies you as you, iMessage Contact Key Verification assigns a Contact Verification Code to each contact that can be compared in person, over FaceTime or another video call service, via a secure call, and so on.

When you verify a contact’s Contact Verification Code, you’ll know you’re iMessaging them and not an eavesdropper, protecting you from man-in-the-middle attacks. But that’s not the only thing iMessage Contact Key Verification can do.

According to Apple, iMessage Contact Key Verification, like iOS 16’s Lockdown Mode, is built for users “who face extraordinary digital threats,” such as politicians, journalists, military personnel, investors, human rights defenders, dissidents, lawyers, activists, government workers, and other potential targets of state-sponsored cyberattacks.

For extra protection, “conversations between users who have enabled iMessage Contact Key Verification receive automatic alerts if an exceptionally advanced adversary, such as a state-sponsored attacker, were ever to succeed breaching cloud servers and inserting their own device to eavesdrop on these encrypted communications.”

Images via Apple

2. New Security Prompt for iCloud for Windows

If you use iCloud for Windows, you may notice a slight change when logging in. Whenever your iPhone and Windows computer aren’t on the same Wi-Fi network, your iPhone will show a new prompt when trying to sign in to iCloud for Windows with a verification code.

Switch to Different Wi-Fi Network

To sign in to iCloud for Windows with a verification code, your iPhone and Windows computer need to be on the same network.

[Go to Wi-Fi Settings] | [Cancel]

3. Apple Pay Later

Apple Pay Later, Apple’s new post-purchase payment, lets you split purchases between $50 and $1,000 that you then pay back over six weeks in four equal installments without any interest or fees. It’s similar to other buy-now-pay-later services such as Affirm, Afterpay, and Klarna but accepted by most websites and apps that already accept Apple Pay.

On March 28, 2023, Apple started inviting select users at random to try out Apple Pay Later on iOS 16.4 and later, but it still hasn’t gone live yet. Apple Pay Later is supposed to be an iOS 16 feature (it was announced at Apple’s WWDC last June), and Apple did say in March’s press release that it plans to offer the feature to all eligible users in the coming months. It’s now three months after invites started rolling out, and Apple Pay Later is still not ready — but iOS 16.6 may finally unleash the payment feature to everyone.

It still appears as an early-access feature on iOS 16.6 and may still be for randomly selected accounts, but that may change once the stable release is pushed out to everyone in the coming weeks.

4. Icons for More Beats Studio Buds + Colors

Apple added images of the black and gold Beats Studio Buds + on iOS 16.4, and iOS 16.6 beta 2 brings us pictures of the other two colors: ivory and transparent. So if you have those models, you’ll now see the correct icons viewable on your iPhone. Beats Studio Buds + were released earlier this month.

5. Easier Sharing of Sports Games/Scores in News

In the News app on iOS 16.6, whenever you long-press or tap the ellipsis (•••) for a sports score or scheduled game, you’ll see a new option to “Share Game.” Previously, you would have to go to the game, tap the ellipsis up top, and choose “Share Game” from there, so the process is quicker now.

You may also notice below that iOS 16.5 previews the game page while iOS 16.6 doesn’t. That is not a change; it’s like that on older iOS 16 versions, but the view may depend on your iPhone model and layout settings.

Long-pressing a sports score in News on iOS 16.5 (left) and iOS 16.6 (right).

6. New Recovery Key Prompts

If you have two-factor authentication enabled and a recovery key set up on your Apple ID account and can’t remember you’re login password, you need to enter the 28-character recovery key that was assigned when you first turned the feature on to get you back into the account.

When you’re locked out on your iPhone, you’ll see three new prompts when trying to enter your recovery key:

  • Enter Recovery Key Later
  • Don’t Have Recovery Key?
  • Try Again Later

7. New Home Upgrade Recommendation

When adding people to your home in the Home app, you may get a prompt asking you to upgrade your home to the latest version, which has a new underlying architecture as of iOS 16.4. Upgrading is optional for now.

Update recommended

Home has a new underlying architecture that will improve the performance of your home. Upgrade this home and ask members of the home to upgrade to the latest version.

[Upgrade Home] | [Add People Without Upgrading]

8. New Warning for Matter Accessories

When trying to pair new Matter accessories, iOS 16.6 may issue a warning prompt if the app you’re using is trying to pair the accessory in an unsecured way. You can manage unauthorized access in Settings –> General –> VPN & Device Management, which implies this warning will only come up for apps installed via mobile device management (MDM).


This app is using an unsecured way to pair a Matter accessory. Please proceed with caution as your current device setting allows unauthorized access to Matter accessories. You can manage this setting under Device Management in the Settings app.

9. New Dispute Status Updates for Apple Card

If you have an Apple Card and dispute a transaction, you may see a few more dispute-related alerts.

Dispute Completed

The dispute filed on this transaction is now complete. Refer to your dispute status email for additional information.

Dispute Status Updated

The dispute filed on this transaction has been updated. Refer to your dispute status email for additional information.

10. New Footer Link for Apple Card Family Sharing

If you share your Apple Card with others in a Family Sharing group, you’ll see a new link to a webpage with more information.

Members of your Family Sharing group can use your Apple Card. Learn More

Anything Else?

Besides the above 10 things, there’s little going on with iOS 16.6. I’ve seen a few minor tweaks that aren’t worth mentioning and a couple of new items whose purpose is unknown, so you can expect mostly bug fixes and security patches when iOS 16.6 hits in June or July.

This all applies to iPadOS 16.6 as well, which will be released at the same time. If you want to try the new iOS and iPadOS software before its stable release, you can join the iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 pubic beta.

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Cover photo and screenshots by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks (unless otherwise noted)


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