Your iPhone could soon allow you to verify who you're texting with in iOS 16.6 — here’s how

Image showing iPhone with iMessage app open
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Apple is reportedly planning to roll out a new security feature for iMessage with the release of both iOS 16.6 and iPadOS 16.6.

According to MacRumors, the recently released betas for iOS 16.6 and iPad OS 16.6 include iMessage Contact Key Verification. However, it’s still unclear as to whether or not this new feature will be enabled during the first beta.

First announced alongside security key support for iOS and MacOS late last year, iMessage Contact Key Verification will allow Apple users to verify that the person they’re texting with in iMessage really is who they say they are.

While Apple explained in a press release at the time that the feature is intended for users who “face extraordinary digital threats like journalists, human rights activists and members of the government”, it will also add an extra layer of security for anyone using one of the best iPhones.

If you have iMessage Contact Key Verification enabled and are chatting with someone else who does too, Apple will send out an alert if its cloud servers are breached or if a conversation could be vulnerable to an intrusion. You can also compare a Contact Verification Code in person, over FaceTime or using one of the best encrypted messaging apps. This way, you’ll be able to verify the identity of the person on the other end of your iMessage conversations.

Should you enable iMessage Contact Key Verification?

An iPhone showing how iMessage Contact Key Verification will look in iMessage

(Image credit: Apple/Tom's Guide)

Although we’ll likely learn more about iMessage Contact Key Verification once the feature enters beta, you may be wondering if it’s worth enabling on your iPhone when it rolls out officially with the release of iOS 16.6.

Fortunately, there don’t appear to be any hoops you’ll have to jump through to use this feature unlike with Apple’s Advanced Data Protection which requires your devices to be running the latest version of Apple’s software and limits how you can use the iCloud website on your smartphone or computer. Likewise, Google’s similar Advanced Protection Program requires that you use a security key every time you need to login to your Google Account.

iMessage Contact Key Verification seems like it will be much easier to use and so far, there don’t seem to be any downsides to enabling the feature. Hopefully, we’ll learn more about it from Apple once the company is ready to make this new security feature generally available.

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Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.