iOS 16 security and privacy features: everything you need to know

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, photo security improvements, and more. Details about all the new features, security and privacy changes were written in this article.

security check

There’s a new Security Check feature in Settings that’s designed to make it easy and quick for people to reset all the data and location access they’ve shared with other people. According to Apple, the security screening is for people in a situation of domestic or intimate partner violence.

You can access the security check by opening the Settings app and tapping on the Privacy & Security section. From there, scroll down to the “Security Check” section. The security check has two options: emergency reset and control access to all your information.

Please note that in the “Security Check” section there is a “Log Out Now” button, which allows you to instantly exit back to the iPhone home screen in case you are afraid that someone will see your presence in this section.

Emergency reset

Emergency reset – this option will allow you to protect your device with one touch. When you use the Flash Reset feature, iPhone immediately stops sharing all data with all people and apps.

Emergency Reset iPhone Large

An emergency reset includes everything you may have shared with people, such as location information, your home data, photo albums, and more.

Emergency Reset also allows you to remove all emergency contacts and reset your Apple ID and password so no one can log into your account.

Access control

For lesser emergencies, there’s a step-by-step guide to managing sharing that lets you see what you’re sharing so you can’t be secretly followed using location sharing, shared albums, or other iPhone features.

ios 16 iphone access control

You can see exactly who you’re sharing data with and what data those people have access to, as well as which apps have access to your data. You can select people or apps and select the “Close Sharing” option to turn off sharing right away.

You’ll also see a list of all third-party apps you’ve installed and what data they have access to, as well as tools to disable that access. You can see what permissions an app has on an individual basis or by data such as Bluetooth, location, contacts, and more.

iphone sharing management
Access control will tell you exactly which devices are signed into your iCloud account and give you the option to sign out, as well as allow you to reset your Apple ID and password, and turn off emergency contacts.

Block access to hidden and recently deleted photos

In the Photos app in iOS 16, you can’t access your Hidden and Recently Deleted albums without biometric authentication with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode.

Face ID operation in landscape orientation

On iPhone 13 models, after installing iOS 16, Face ID works in landscape mode. This allows you to unlock your iPhone with Face ID whether it’s in portrait or landscape.

Quick responses to threats

In iOS 16, Apple can 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, which will make them download faster.

Quick responses to iOS 16 threats Medium

When you update to iOS 16, Apple will set your device to install security updates automatically, but you can turn off this feature in General > Software Update > Auto Update.

You’ll start getting important security improvements on your device even faster.

Request permission to paste

In iOS 16, apps will require user permission before accessing the clipboard to copy and paste content. You will need to allow the app to use the copy and paste feature, similar to how apps need permission to access your microphone, camera, location, and other sensitive data.


With iOS 16 and its child updates, Apple is adding passkeys that are meant to replace traditional passwords when logging into a website or app. Apple says passkeys are more secure than passwords, protecting users from phishing, malware, and other attacks that try to gain access to an account again. Passkeys are not yet available in the iOS 16 beta, but will be introduced later this year.

Access keys work through iCloud Keychain. One key is public and stored on the website server, while the second key is private and stored on the device. On iPhone and other devices with biometric authentication, Face ID or Touch ID will be used to authorize a passkey to authenticate a user to a website or app.

The key from the website and the key from the Apple device must match to allow login, and since the device key is private and only available to the user, it cannot be stolen or tampered with.

Access keys use “iCloud Keychain”, which requires two-factor authentication for further protection. Access keys are synchronized across all user devices using iCloud Keychain, which is fully encrypted with its own cryptographic keys.

Syncing passkeys across devices provides redundancy in the event that an iPhone is lost, but if all of a person’s Apple devices and passkeys are lost, Apple created the iCloud Keychain Escrow feature to recover passkey information. There is a multi-step authentication that needs to go through to recover iCloud Keychain using passkeys, or users can set up a person contact to recover an account.

How passkeys work sounds complicated, but in practice it will be as simple as using Touch ID or Face ID to create a passkey along with logging in.

Apple is working with members of the FIDO Alliance, including Google and Microsoft, to ensure that passkeys can also be used with third-party devices and across platforms. On third-party devices, passkeys will work through QR codes that will authenticate with the iPhone, but this will require support from other companies and should be adopted throughout the tech world.

Lock mode

iOS 16 adds a lockdown mode that has an “extreme” level of security for activists, journalists and others who are the target of sophisticated cyberattacks. Lock Mode severely restricts or disables the functionality of many iPhone features, as well as blocking apps and websites.

ios 16 lock mode
Lock Mode blocks most types of attachments in Messages, blocks FaceTime calls from people not in your contacts, restricts web browsing, prevents configuration profiles from being installed, and more.

Lock Mode is not meant for the average user and most people don’t need to turn it on given how restrictive it is to use the device. The feature is disabled by default and can be enabled in the Privacy & Security section of the Settings app.

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