The latest iPhone software update hasn’t revealed all its secrets yet, but there’s still plenty to cheer about: an improved security feature to protect your Apple ID account from phishing and other attacks. Keep reading to see everything iOS 16.3 has in store for your iPhone.
iOS 16.2 update was released on December 13 with nearly 40 new features and changes. Like clockwork, Apple released the first beta version of iOS 16.3 just a day later on December 14. There is no official release date for the stable version of iOS 16.3, but we’re probably looking at March 2023, February at the earliest. Until then, any iPhone that supports iOS 16 can install the iOS 16.3 beta to get a head start on everyone else.
Apple announced a new security feature for the Messages app on December 7 called iMessage Contact Key Verification, which will let you know if you’re really chatting with the person you think you are. This feature is not available on iOS 16.3 but may come in a future update.
Although I’m focusing on new features for iPhone, many of the items listed below also apply to iPadOS 16.3 for iPad and macOS 13.2 Ventura for Mac, also in beta.
1. Security Keys for Apple ID
In Settings -> Apple ID -> Password & Security, you will now find an “Add Security Keys” option, a much-awaited security enhancement.
Third-party security keys are physical devices that you can use to verify your identity when signing into accounts on a new device. On iOS 16.2, they can offer stronger protection against phishing and unauthorized attempts to access your Apple ID account.
According to Apple, hardware security keys can replace any two-factor verification codes it sends to any trusted devices you’re already signed into when you try to sign in or reset your password.
This feature is designed for users who, often due to their public profile, face concerted threats to their online accounts, such as celebrities, journalists, and government officials. For enrolling users, Security Keys augment Apple’s two-factor authentication by requiring a hardware security key as one of two factors. This takes our two-factor authentication one step further, preventing even an advanced attacker from obtaining a user’s second factor in a phishing scam.
Apple’s new feature only works with security keys certified by the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) alliance, which is the industry standard. Apple has a link to choose compatible security keys during the setup process and a global “Learn More” link, but those web pages don’t exist yet.
Apple also says you won’t have to re-authenticate with a passkey when using the built-in device-to-device transfer protocol when buying a new iPhone.
2. New Start Screen for HomePod Handoff
If you have a HomePod, you can use Handoff to transfer current audio from your iPhone to HomePod, whether it’s a song, podcast, or phone call. iOS 16.3 includes a splash screen guide explaining the process in case you’ve never used it or figured out what you could do. The prompt, titled “Transfer music and control HomePod”, says:
Bring iPhone closer to HomePod to show controls or, when playing music, to move music between iPhone and HomePod.
You can bring the iPhone closer to the HomePod again later to show controls or transfer music.
So far, iOS 16.3 looks like a minor update, and the other changes we’ve seen are insignificant from a user perspective. We’ll surely see more added or newly discovered features as the beta progresses, especially since the stable release isn’t expected until February or March. Until then, stay tuned. And let us know if you find anything we missed.
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