Apple recently seeded iOS 16.6 and iPadOS 16.6 beta updates to developers and testers. The latest beta update includes a highly anticipated feature called iMessage Contact Key Verification. However, it remains uncertain whether this feature is fully functional in the initial beta release.
Apple releases non-functional iMessage Contact Key Verification feature in iOS 16.6 beta
Accessible through the Settings app, the iMessage Contact Key Verification setting does not activate any features upon tapping. It is possible that additional settings, such as Security Keys, need to be enabled to utilize this feature, or it might not be fully implemented in this beta version.
Announced in late 2022, iMessage Contact Key Verification is a security measure aimed at Apple users facing “extraordinary digital threats.” This feature ensures secure messaging, specifically designed for journalists, human rights activists, government officials, and individuals at risk of targeted attacks from state-sponsored or malicious actors.
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.
The primary purpose of iMessage Contact Key Verification is to enable Apple device owners to confirm the authenticity of the individuals they are communicating with, thus thwarting potential interception or eavesdropping by malicious entities. When both parties in a conversation have enabled this feature, Apple will issue an alert if the cloud servers are breached, making the conversation vulnerable to intrusion.
Additionally, users who activate iMessage Contact Key Verification can compare a Contact Verification Code in person, through FaceTime, or via another secure app to further validate their identity and the identity of their communication partner.
Apple stated that iMessage Contact Key Verification would become available on iPhones and other Apple devices at some point in 2023, making it one of the last anticipated features in iOS 16.
This feature was initially announced alongside Security Keys for Apple ID, which was successfully implemented in iOS 16.3. The addition of iMessage Contact Key Verification further solidifies Apple’s commitment to user privacy and security, offering enhanced protection for those facing significant digital threats.