3 New Features iOS 16.6 is bringing to your iPhone in Apple’s next software update

3 New Features iOS 16.6 is bringing to your iPhone in Apple's next software update

Apple will release the first iOS 17 beta to developers soon, but that doesn’t mean the company is done updating iOS 16. There’s already a new iOS 16.6 software update in the works and it could include an important feature for your highly anticipated iPhone since it was announced last year.

1. Contact iMessage key verification

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

On iOS 16.6 beta 1, if you search for the feature in the Settings app, it will appear in the results. However, tapping it opens the Apple ID settings without a visible Contact Key verification option. Apple also introduced a URL scheme for contact key verification (see below) in the first beta. As per the search result, it also just takes you to the Apple ID settings as the sub-menu doesn’t exist yet.


These Contact Key Verification materialization clues were removed by Apple in iOS 16.6 beta 2. A search in Settings no longer shows this, and the package listing the URL scheme has been removed from the preference manifests.

Contact key verification is similar to Signal’s security number system in that it’s intended to make sure you’re talking to who you think you’re talking to. Like Signal’s Security 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, via FaceTime, or another video calling service , via a secure call, and Presto.

When you verify a contact’s contact verification code, you’ll know you’re sending it via iMessage 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 designed for users “facing extraordinary digital threats,” such as politicians, journalists, military personnel, investors, human rights defenders, dissidents , lawyers, activists, government employees, and other potential targets of state-sponsored cyberattacks.

For additional 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, ever succeeds in breaching cloud servers and entering their device to intercept these encrypted communications.”

Pictures via Apple

2. New iCloud Security Warning for Windows

If you’re using iCloud for Windows, you might notice a slight change when you sign in. Whenever your iPhone and Windows computer are not on the same Wi-Fi network, your iPhone will show a new message when you try to sign in to iCloud for Windows with a verification code.

Switch to another Wi-Fi network

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

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

3. Icons for More Beats Studio Buds + Colors

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

Anything else?

Other than the above three things, there’s little you can do with iOS 16.6. I’ve seen a few small changes that aren’t worth mentioning, and a couple of new items whose purpose is unknown, so you can mostly expect bug fixes and security patches when iOS 16.6 arrives in June or July.

All of this also applies to iPadOS 16.6, which will be released at the same time. If you want to try new iOS and iPadOS software before its stable release, you can join the public beta of iOS 16 or iPadOS 16.

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

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