Physical security keys are coming to the iPhone with iOS 16.3

Security Keys for Apple ID provides users the choice to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account.
(Image credit: Apple)

It looks like we're closer than we may have thought to get support for physical security keys on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

In the latest developer betas for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, Apple has added support for physical security keys, gadgets that connect to your devices and offer an additional level of identity verification. The feature, which was announced by Apple a week ago, has shown up in the iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3, and macOS Ventura 13.2 developer betas that were released earlier today.

In a note at the bottom of the press release announcing support for the keychain dongles, the company said that "Security Keys for Apple ID will be available globally in early 2023." Aassume that iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3, and macOS Ventura 13.2 will launch early next year, in other words.

Physical security keys 

Apple says that Security Keys are designed for "users who, often due to their public profile, face concerted threats to their online accounts, such as celebrities, journalists, and members of government. For users who opt in, Security Keys strengthens Apple’s two-factor authentication by requiring a hardware security key as one of the two factors. This takes our two-factor authentication even further, preventing even an advanced attacker from obtaining a user’s second factor in a phishing scam."

The company also mentioned that after launching two-factor authentication for Apple ID in 2015, "more than 95 percent of active iCloud accounts using this is the most widely used two-factor account security system in the world that we’re aware of."

In addition to announcing support for physical security keys, Apple also revealed its new Advanced Data Protection feature that offers end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups. 

Apple VP Craig Federighi said in an interview that, despite China's pressure on the company when it comes to user privacy, the company plans to roll out the feature to users in the country. Some users who attempted to enable the feature right away on new devices have found that Apple has blocked such activity.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.