Apple released iOS 16.6 on July 24, the latest version of the iOS 16.6 operating system. iOS 16.6 is a smaller update in terms of features than we’ve had in the past, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
Apple appears to have released iOS 16.6 to push security fixes to iPhone users, and it fixes a total of 16 vulnerabilities. It fixes bugs with the Apple Neural Engine, Find My, the kernel, WebKit, and more.
A full list of fixes and details on them can be found in Apple’s security support document, but what’s important to note is that two of the vulnerabilities may have been actively exploited in the wild. A kernel vulnerability is known to have affected devices running versions of iOS older than iOS 15.7.1, but it sounds like it could be impact on newer versions of iOS, attackers simply hadn’t gotten around to it.
The other exploited vulnerability was first patched with a Rapid Response Security update, iOS 16.5.1(c), but if you don’t have it installed, you’re still vulnerable to attack.
Because this update has so many security improvements, it’s a good idea to install it as soon as possible. You won’t get any fancy new features for your phone, but iOS 16.6 keeps your data more secure by strengthening the underlying software architecture.
While Apple didn’t introduce iMessage Contact Key Verification, this update did add some functionality under the hood that suggests we could see this in the not-too-distant future.
As a refresher, iMessage Contact Key Verification allows Apple device owners to verify that they are messaging with the people they intend to message, rather than with a malicious entity that has intercepted a message or eavesdropped on a conversation. In a conversation between two or more people who have iMessage Contact Key Verification enabled, Apple will send an alert if the cloud servers are ever compromised and a conversation is vulnerable to intrusion.
At one point in the iOS 16.6 beta, iMessage Contact Key Verification appeared in the Settings app, but Apple took it out in a later beta. Still, work on the option appears to be progressing. This feature won’t be available to everyone when it launches, and Apple plans to use it by iPhone users who face “extraordinary digital threats,” such as journalists, human rights activists, government officials, and others at risk from malicious digital threats. to attack.
What’s next for iOS
iOS 16.6 focused on under the hood improvements as Apple is developing iOS 17, the update that will bring a ton of new functionality to the iPhone this fall. Apple is saving feature additions for iOS 17, and the update brings a new StandBy mode for the lock screen, interactive widgets, improved autocorrect, major new features for Messages, FaceTime and Safari, and much more.
Full details on all the features of iOS 17 can be found in our overview of iOS 17.