The iOS 16.6 Features Coming to Your iPhone in Apple’s Next Software Update « iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks

Apple is releasing the first iOS 17 beta to developers soon, 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 have an important feature for your iPhone that’s been highly anticipated since it was announced last year.

The 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 we’re just now seeing hints of it in the beta code. In fact, the only noticeable addition on iOS 16.6 so far is Contact Key Verification, and it’s not fully implemented yet.

If you search the Settings app for the feature, it’ll show up in the results, but tapping it opens up the Apple ID settings without a Contact Key Verification option visible. Additionally, Apple baked in a URL scheme for Contact Key Verification. As with the search result, it also just takes you to the Apple ID settings since the submenu doesn’t exist yet.


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

Besides a few hints at iMessage Contact Key Verification, there’s not much 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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