Every iOS update adds new privacy and security features, and iOS 16 is no exception. Apple has added tools to make it easier to apply security updates, new Face ID capabilities, improvements to photo security, and more, detailing all of the new privacy and security options detailed below.
The Settings app includes a new “Security Checker” feature designed to make it easy for people to quickly reset all the data and location access they’ve granted other people. According to Apple, Safety Check is aimed at people in domestic or intimate partner violence situations.
You can go to Security Checkup by opening the Settings app and tapping the Privacy & Security section. From there, scroll down to Security Checkup. Security Check has two options, including an emergency reset and a checklist of all your data sharing options.
Keep in mind that Safety Check has a “Quick Exit” button that takes you straight to the iPhone’s home screen in case you risk getting caught using it.
Emergency Reset is a one-tap option that allows you to protect your iOS device with just a few taps. When you use Emergency Reset, it will immediately stop sharing everything with all people and apps.
That includes everything you share with people, such as location data, your home data, photo albums and more.
Disaster Recovery also allows you to delete all emergency contacts and reset your Apple ID and password so that no one can sign into your account.
For fewer emergencies, there’s a share and manage access walkthrough that gives you an overview of what you’re sharing, so you can’t be secretly tracked or monitored with location sharing, shared albums, or other iPhone features.
You can see exactly who you’re sharing data with, what data people have access to, and which apps have access to your data. You can select people or apps and choose the “Stop Sharing” option to turn off sharing right away.
You’ll also see a list of all the third-party apps you’ve installed and what data they have access to, along with tools to disable that access. You can see what permissions an app has on an individual basis or on data such as Bluetooth, Location, Contacts and more.
Manage Sharing tells you exactly which devices your iCloud account is signed in to, giving you the option to sign out, resetting your Apple ID and password, and deactivating emergency contacts.
Locked hidden and recently deleted photo albums
In the iOS 16 Photos app, the Hidden and Recently Deleted albums cannot be accessed without biometric authentication via Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode.
Face ID Landscape
On iPhone 13 models, Face ID will work in landscape mode after iOS 16 is installed. This allows Face ID to unlock the iPhone whether it is held in portrait or landscape orientation.
Fast Security Response
iOS 16 allows Apple to send security updates without having to update the entire operating system. in iOS 15, security updates are tied to iOS updates and require a full update, but iOS 16 will make it easier for Apple to distribute security updates and download them faster.
When you update to iOS 16, Apple will set your device to automatically install security updates, but the feature can be turned off under General > Software Update > Automatic Updates.
Get important security improvements for your devices even faster. These improvements can be applied automatically between standard software updates.
Apps in iOS 16 require explicit user permission before accessing the clipboard to copy and paste content. Apps must ask to use the copy and paste feature, similar to the way apps require permission to access the microphone, camera, location, and other sensitive data.
With iOS 16 and its sister updates, Apple is adding passkeys designed to replace traditional passwords when logging into a website or app. Apple says passkeys are more secure than passwords and protect users from phishing, malware and other attacks that try to regain access to an account. Passkeys have not been implemented in the beta version of iOS 16, but will be introduced later this year.
Passkeys work via a key system. One key is public and stored on the website server, while the second key is private and stored on the device. On the iPhone and other devices with biometric authentication, Face ID or Touch ID is used to authorize the passkey to authenticate the user to a website or app.
The website key and the Apple device key must match to login, and since the device key is private and available only to the user, it cannot be stolen, leaked, or phishing.
Passkeys use iCloud keychain, which requires two-factor authentication for further protection. Passkeys are synced across a user’s devices via ‘iCloud’ Keychain, which is end-to-end encrypted with its own cryptographic keys.
Password synchronization between devices provides redundancy in the event that an “iPhone” is lost, but if all of a person’s Apple devices are lost and the passkeys along with them, Apple has created an “iCloud” keychain keeper to recover passkey information. There is a multi-step authentication process to go through to recover an iCloud password key fob, or users can set up a person to serve as an account recovery contact.
Passkeys sound complicated, but in practice it will be as simple as using Touch ID or Face ID to create a password key associated with a login.
Apple has worked with members of the FIDO Alliance, including Google and Microsoft, to ensure passkeys can also be used with non-Apple devices and across platforms. On non-Apple devices, Passkeys work via QR codes that are verified using the “iPhone”, but it requires support from other companies and must be applied throughout the tech world.
iOS 16 adds Lockdown Mode, which provides an “extreme” level of security for activists, journalists, and others targeted by sophisticated cyberattacks. Lock Mode strictly limits or disables the functionality of many of the iPhone’s features, as well as locking apps and websites.
Lock Mode blocks most types of attachments in Messages, blocks FaceTime calls from non-contacts, restricts web browsing functions, prevents configuration profiles from being installed, and more, with a full list available in our Lockdown article.
Lock mode is not for the average user and most people should not enable it given how restrictive it is. The feature is disabled by default and can be activated in the Privacy & Security section of the Settings app.
Have questions about the new security and privacy features in iOS 16, know of a feature we left out, or want to provide feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.
Security and privacy
With iOS 16, there are a number of security and privacy-focused updates, including landscape Face ID, security check, faster security updates, passkeys, and more.
We have a special security and privacy guide highlighting every new feature you need to know.