iMessage Contact Key Verification could arrive with iOS 16.6

The feature makes an appearance in the latest iOS beta.


At the end of last year, Apple announced iMessage Contact Key Verification, a tool the company said would allow those who face “extraordinary digital threats” to safeguard their conversations from malicious actors. At the time, the company promised the safety feature would arrive sometime in 2023. Now, a little more than two weeks before the start of WWDC 2023, it looks like iMessage Contact Key Verification could arrive with the release of iOS 16.6.

As first reported by MacRumors, Apple began rolling out the first iOS 16.6 beta on Friday, and among the features the release appears to add is iMessage Contact Key Verification. A new option within the Settings app indicates Apple is working on the tool, but, for the time being, enabling Contact Key Verification doesn’t appear to activate the feature. MacRumors speculates that could be because the company has yet to fully implement iMessage Contact Key Verification.

Once it arrives, iMessage Contact Key Verification will, provided everyone in an iMessage conversation has the feature enabled, send an automatic alert when Apple detects someone has added a rogue device to an account. The company envisions the feature protecting activists, government officials and journalists from state-sponsored hackers. It’s one of the last features Apple is expected to add to iOS 16 before the company shifts its full attention to iOS 17.