The iOS 16.6 and iPadOS 16.6 betas that Apple released today appear to include checking the Call key in iMessage, though it’s not yet clear if the feature works in the first beta.

Apple's iMessage Advanced Security contact key verification screen feature
The iMessage Contact Key Verification setting is available in the Settings app, but tapping it doesn’t seem to activate any actual feature. It may require additional settings to be triggered such as security keys, or it may not be fully implemented yet.

Announced late last year, iMessage Contact Key Verification is designed for Apple users facing “unusual digital threats.” Apple intends to use iMessage Call Key Verification by journalists, human rights activists, government officials, and others who are at risk of malicious digital attacks from state-sponsored attackers or other malicious actors.

iMessage Contact Key Verification enables Apple device owners to verify that they are messaging the people they intend to contact rather than 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 have been hacked at any time and the conversation is vulnerable to hacking.

Users who enable this feature can also compare a contact’s verification code in person, on FaceTime, or through another secure app to further verify who they are and who they’re communicating with.

Apple said iMessage call key verification will be available on iPhone and other Apple devices sometime in 2023, and it’s one of the last features we expect to see in iOS 16.

It was initially announced that iMessage’s contact key would be verified along with Apple ID security keys, a feature enabled in iOS 16.3.

(Thanks, Steve Moser!)

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