iOS 16.3 Lets You Lock Your Apple ID With a Physical Key

Back of an Apple iPhone 14 with an Apple Watch

Apple revealed last year that it was adding new security features to its devices and online accounts. The last update for iPhone, iPad, and Mac added encrypted iCloud backups, and now iOS 16.3 and macOS Ventura 13.2 have arrived with another feature.

Apple is rolling out iOS 16.3 right now for iPhones and macOS Ventura 13.2 for Mac, and a corresponding upgrade for iPad is expected shortly. The main new feature is support for security keys with Apple ID, which was announced back in December. Now, instead of just using other Apple devices or SMS as two-factor authentication methods, you can optionally use a hardware security key. You can even set the key to be required for logging into a new device, as an extra strict layer of security.

This update introduces a new Unity wallpaper to honor Black history and culture in celebration of Black History Month, Security Keys for Apple ID, and includes other enhancements, bug fixes, and security updates for your iPhone. Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices.
Update message in the Settings app

Apple said back in December, “This feature is designed for users who, often due to their public profile, face concerted threats to their online accounts, such as celebrities, journalists, and members of government. For users who opt in, Security Keys strengthens Apple’s two-factor authentication by requiring a hardware security key as one of the two factors. This takes our two-factor authentication even further, preventing even an advanced attacker from obtaining a user’s second factor in a phishing scam.”

Hardware security key support has been available with accounts at Google, Microsoft, GitHub, and other popular services for years. It’s great to see Apple finally get onboard, though the company expects most people to continue using other Apple devices for login confirmations. The iOS 16.3 update also includes support for the new HomePod, a wallpaper commemorating Black History Month, and several bug fixes.

Source: The Verge, MacRumors