Apple's iOS 16.6 and iPadOS 16.6 updates -- the still-piping-hot latest version of iOS 16, just pulled from the oven -- are working their way through the beta program ahead of a release to the public. Now, developers can take the second betas for a spin as Apple readies a feature that it first teased back in December of 2022.
That feature is iMessage Contact Key Verification, and it's designed to make iMessage even safer for people to use. Especially those who could be targeted by "extraordinary digital threats," says Apple.
The iOS 16.6 and iPadOS 16.6 updates don't yet have fully functioning versions of iMessage Contact Key Verification, but that could change before the final versions are pushed to the public.
Extraordinary digital threats
As far as new features there doesn't appear to be an awful lot going on inside iOS 16.6 and iPadOS 16.6 right now, but Apple is already getting its ducks in a row for when the updates are made public.
The feature that has already been noticed, iMessage Contact Key Verification, is designed to give people a way to confirm that the person they're talking to via iMessage is actually who they say they are.
"Now with iMessage Contact Key Verification, users who face extraordinary digital threats — such as journalists, human rights activists, and members of government — can choose to further verify that they are messaging only with the people they intend," Apple said last year. "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." Apple goes on to say that "for even higher security, iMessage Contact Key Verification users can compare a Contact Verification Code in person, on FaceTime, or through another secure call."
We can all agree that the best iPhone is a secure iPhone so features like this are welcome. As for the betas, registered developers can download them now with public beta versions likely to be made available within the next day or so.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.