Apple’s iOS 16 is about to launch, along with a bunch of stunning new iPhone security and privacy features. So far, iOS 16 highlights include Passkeys, which Apple is hoping will mark the first step away from using passwords on your iPhone, and a new way to prove you aren’t a bot.
Other cool new iPhone features arriving this Fall include Lockdown Mode, Safety Check and the ability to unsend iMessages and emails. Here are all the iOS 16 security and privacy features you need to know about.
iOS 16 fixes the most annoying thing about the internet—CAPATCHAs
Apple is finally fixing the annoying internet CAPATCHA boxes that leave us all fuming as we try to guess how many trucks are in a picture. Announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the iOS 16 feature will use a Private Access Token to verify you to the website or app. This all happens in iOS 16 via iCloud, which will verify your device and Apple ID in the background so there’s no need for the CAPTCHA prompt. I cannot wait.
In iOS 16, Apple is taking the first steps towards getting rid of passwords altogether. Most of the industry agrees that passwords aren’t great, and biometric forms of authentication such as Face ID and Touch ID are a perfect alternative partly because they are so easy to use. It’s with this in mind that Apple—along with other big tech firms such as Google and Microsoft—is part of the FIDO Alliance.
Part of this initiative, Passkeys are based on the WebAuthn standard and use public key cryptography to secure your accounts. In iOS 16, this will mean you can simply use Face ID and Touch ID to authenticate yourself.
This very cool new iOS 16 privacy feature allows you to unsend or recall any iMessages or emails you didn’t mean to send. You can use Unsend Messages in iOS 16 via a tool marked Undo Send and the only give away if you’ve edited the message will be a tiny “edited” showing under the text.
Lockdown Mode is one of the headline features of iOS 16, even though most people won’t use it. On the face of it, Lockdown Mode seems pretty cool—additional iPhone security protection from damaging spyware attacks such as Pegasus.
Lockdown Mode in iOS 16 protects iPhones from attack by effectively making them unusable. Using Lockdown Mode, most message attachments are blocked, link previews are disabled and FaceTime calls are blocked if you haven’t sent the initial request. This will make it difficult to deliver spyware to someone at risk—such as a journalist or political dissident.
But the thing is, most people aren’t at risk from Pegasus, so think of Lockdown Mode as something good to know—and of course, great PR for Apple promoting the iPhone as a robust device.
Security updates in iOS 16
Apple iOS 16 will come with a bunch of security fixes too. It’s unclear whether Apple will continue to update iOS 15 with important security updates, but even if it does, you’ll have to upgrade to iOS 16 after a couple of months to keep your iPhone secure.
Sure, lots of people don’t like to update to new operating systems (OSs) to give Apple time to iron out any bugs, but you won’t be protected from security holes.
When you do upgrade to iOS 16, you’ll find that security updates can be added without you having to apply the features upgrades. That’s because a new iOS 16 feature called Rapid Security Response will allow you to apply security patches on the fly outside of version updates.
In short—more iOS 16 features coming this Fall
Safety Check is a cool new iOS 16 feature arriving this Fall that allows you to see who has permission to view your iPhone data—including people as well as third-party apps. You can then revoke access where necessary.
Another iOS 16 upgrade is an update to Clipboard permissions that will force apps to ask you before pasting information.
Meanwhile, in iOS 16, your Hidden and Recently Deleted Photos albums will be locked by default and you will only be able to access them via Face ID or Touch ID.
When will iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 arrive?
That’s a very good question. Apple’s September event is usually held on a Monday or Tuesday, and predictions are that this will be either September 12 or September 13 due to Labor Day taking place the previous week. However, according to reliable Apple commentator Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is delaying iPadOS 16 until October while it focuses on the iPhone 14 launch.
Therefore, we will see iOS 16 alongside the launch of the iPhone 14, while iPadOS 16 will appear alongside the October reveal of new iPads. According to Gurman:
“The iPhone update, iOS 16, and new Apple Watch software, watchOS 9, will launch concurrently in September. Then, about a month later, iPadOS 16 will launch alongside macOS Ventura.”
iOS 16—should you upgrade straight away?
Taking all this into account, should you upgrade to iOS 16? I say yes, but I am prepared to deal with bugs while I try out the cool new security and privacy features. It’s different for businesses of course, and there is a risk since some bugs can make your iPhone tricky to use.
Either way, it’s time to get excited about iOS 16, and watch this space for more news and demos of the soon to launch iPhone OS.