The latest software update for iPhone hasn’t yet revealed all its secrets, but there’s still something to be excited about: an enhanced 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.
The iOS 16.2 update was released on Dec. 13 with almost 40 new features and changes. Like clockwork, Apple pushed out the first iOS 16.3 beta just one day later on Dec. 14. There is no official release date for the iOS 16.3 stable build, but we’re likely 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 jump on everyone else.
Apple announced on Dec. 7 a new security feature for the Messages app 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 live on iOS 16.3 but could come in a future update.
While I’ll be focusing on the new features for iPhone, some 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’ll now find an “Add Security Keys” option, a hotly anticipated security enhancement.
Third-party security keys are physical devices you can use to verify your identity when you sign in to accounts on a new device. On iOS 16.2, they can give strong protection against phishing and unauthorized attempts to access your Apple ID account.
According to Apple, hardware security keys can replace all the two-factor verification codes it sends to all the trusted devices you’re already logged in to when trying 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 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.
Apple’s new feature only works with security keys certified by the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, which is the norm across the industry. Apple has a link to choose compatible security keys during the setup process and an all-encompassing “Learn More” link, but these webpages do not exist yet.
Apple also states that you won’t have to re-authenticate with a security key when using the built-in device-to-device transfer protocol when getting a new iPhone.
2. New Splash Screen for HomePod Handoff
If you have a HomePod, you can use Handoff to transfer the current audio on your iPhone over to the HomePod, whether it’s a song, podcast, or phone call. IOS 16.3 includes a splash screen guide explaining the process in case you have never used it or understood what you could do. The prompt, titled “Transfer Music and Control HomePod,” states:
Bring iPhone close to HomePod to view controls, or when playing music, to move music between iPhone and HomePod.
You can bring iPhone near HomePod again later to view controls or transfer music.
3. New Award Badge for Kickboxing
On Jan. 9, 2023, Apple added a kickboxing workout to Apple Fitness+, and iOS 16.3 adds support for a new kickboxing award to go along with it. The award may be pushed out over the air or in a follow-up iOS 16.2 update, but for now, iOS 16.3 is the only iOS software version with it baked into the code.
4. Emergency SOS Changes
On iOS 16.3, Apple introduces slight changes to how things work in the Emergency SOS settings. Instead of “Call with Hold,” the toggle switch is now “Call with Hold and Release.” Its new description states that your iPhone won’t call emergency services until you release the hold — even after the countdown finishes.
Call with Hold and Release
If you continuously hold the side button and either volume button, a countdown begins and an alarm sounds. After the countdown, if you release the buttons, iPhone will call emergency services.
Next is “Call with 5 Presses,” now called “Call with 5 Button Presses.” The description provides the exact instructions, only worded differently to match the “If you …” beginning of the Call with Hold and Release description.
If you rapidly press the side button five times, a countdown begins and an alarm sounds. When the countdown ends, iPhone will call emergency services.
5. Reset Apple Books Font to the Original
In the Books app, iOS 16.3 makes a change when choosing a font in the Themes & Settings in-book menu. Now, “Original” has its own selectable line, so you can quickly revert to the original style font any time you want without messing up any other preferences in the menu. Previously, you’d have to hit the “Reset Theme” button, which would also reset different settings such as Bold Text and the Accessibility & Layout Options.
So far, iOS 16.3 looks like a minor update, and the other changes we’ve seen are insignificant from a user perspective. We will surely see more added or newly discovered features as the beta progresses, especially since the stable build isn’t expected until sometime in February or March. Until then, stay tuned. And let us know if you find anything we missed.
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