iOS 16.3: hands-on with security keys

In my latest hands-on video, I take an in-depth look at what it’s like to use hardware security keys in iOS 16.3. Hardware security keys are direct replacements for the six digit verification codes sent to trusted iOS devices. Hardware security keys act like trusted devices, and must be used as the second form of authentication alongside your username and password combo.

Video walkthrough: iOS 16.3

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Apple makes users who wish to use hardware security keys set up two keys initially. This is a requirement so that you will be able to access your account in case one of the keys is damaged or lost. Two keys is the bare minimum, but you can add even more than that if you want. I used a pair of inexpensive FIDO2-compatible security keys that I purchased from Amazon.

If you lose all of your keys, you will be locked out of your account, and Apple will not be able to assist you. That is among one of the reasons why most people should stick to 6-digit verification codes. That being said, hardware security keys increase security by eliminating the possibility of advanced verification code phishing attacks. If you’re a high profile target, these physical keys may be a good option to harden your security.

I also discuss other iOS 16.3 features in this video, and revisit some 16.2 features as well, such as Live Activity’s new more frequent updates setting, and logging into iCloud with Advance Data Protection enabled. I’ll have more on these features in a future post.

iOS 16.2 beta 3 + Emergency SOS via Satellite hands-on

iOS Rapid Security Response debut

The Rapid Security Response feature that Apple announced at WWDC 2022 is now undergoing beta testing. Users who are running iOS 16.2 beta 3 received a secondary security update named iOS Security Response 16.2 (a). This update includes no real security enhancements, as 9to5mac confirms that the test is merely that, a test. However, it does give us the first look at how Apple’s security updates will work. In most cases, Security Responses will be small updates that are aimed at fixing crucial security holes in iOS software without forcing the user to download a full iOS update.

Video walkthrough

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Installing a Security Response

After visiting Settings → General → Software Update, users are greeted with an invitation to Download and Install iOS Security Response 16.2 (a). The update looks similar to a normal OTA update, except for its size (this test came in at 98 MB).

Once the update is initiated, you’ll see the following responses from Apple’s update server:

Security Response Requested → Preparing Security Response → Downloaded.

Once downloaded, tap the Install Now button followed by your device’s passcode to initiate the update. Users will see a brief “Verifying Security Response” prompt before the device reboots. While the download and prep took a few minutes, the iOS Security Response 16.2 (a) update completed in just about 30 seconds after my iPhone rebooted. This is significantly faster than a typical iOS update, and will be a great feature for keeping detrimental bugs at bay without necessitating a full iOS update.

Users can also toggle automatic Security Response updates by going to Settings → General → Software Update → Automatic Updates, and using the Security Responses & System Files switch. This option is enabled by default, and I recommend keeping it enabled.

Verifying Security Response installation

Settings → General → About → iOS Version, and you should see the Security Response release notes, which are separate from the main iOS update release notes, if it was installed successfully.

Uninstalling a Security Response

To uninstall a Security Response, visit Settings → General → About → iOS Version, and tap the Remove Security Response button underneath its release notes. Tap Remove again on the pop-up that appears to confirm, and your iPhone will automatically reboot after a few seconds. Once rebooted, visit Settings → General → About → iOS Version to ensure that the Security Response is no longer displayed.

Updated Always On Display options for iPhone 14 Pro

iOS 16.2 beta 3 affords iPhone 14 Pro users more fine-grained control over the Always On Display. IN previous versions of iOS you could only disable the Always On Display, but in beta 3 you can disable Lock screen Wallpaper, Notifications, or both, yet still keep the Always On Display active for widgets and the date/time.

This is a step in the right direction, as even after a couple of months, I still haven’t gotten used to the Always On Display, and usually end up disabling it outright. I could also see hiding wallpaper providing a measure of battery life savings. Apple, please keep the customization options coming.

New ‘Battery Level’ Shortcuts variables

iOS 16.2 beta 3 includes a couple of new variables for the Battery Level action in Shortcuts. Not only can users prompt for battery level like before, but now they can check to see if the device is charging, or if it is connected to a charger.

Apple launches Emergency SOS via Satellite

Last Tuesday, Apple pushed a server-side update that made the new Emergency SOS via Satellite feature live for all iPhone 14 owners running iOS 16.1 or higher. This feature makes it so that you can communicate with emergency services via text even when you don’t have cellular connectivity.

All in all, I’m extremely impressed with Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite functionality.

There is also a new feature found in the Me tab of the Find My App that allows you to send your location to a friend using the Satellite feature. This, too, requires that your phone be without cellular signal.

On Tuesday, I traveled 25 minutes outside the city to go to a place with dense foliage, a place where I know that cellular access doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the location, the forest area was closed due to deer hunting season. Not wanting to get hit by stray buckshot, I thought it would be wise to heed the warning.

Although there is a demo, I was really looking forward to trying out some of the Emergency SOS via Satellite features in a real no-coverage situation. Fortunately, there is a workaround that can be used to simulate a scenario with no cellular coverage, and I cover it in my video walkthrough.

The Emergency SOS via Satellite demo

All in all, I’m extremely impressed with Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite functionality. It’s the type of thing that provides a little extra peace of mind when venturing off the grid for a hike. It’s clear that Apple worked hard to make satellite connectivity not only possible, but practical. For example, the iPhone 14 series has all of the need hardware to establish a connection with a satellite 800 miles in the sky, moving at thousands of miles an hour. In fact, you don’t even have to hold you iPhone in any awkward ways or perform any other song or dance to make it work.

Send Location via Satellite live example

I was able to send my location to a friend while completely devoid of cellular or Wi-Fi signal while sitting at my office desk indoors. This was not a test like the SOS demo, but the real deal. If that doesn’t speak to how impressive this feature is, I don’t know what will.

Above, you can see the result on a “friends” phone that follows me via the Find My app. Here, you can see my location was sent to the friend via satellite. These locations can be sent every 15 minutes.

Emergency SOS via Satellite is available for free for two years after iPhone 14 activation. It’s the type of feature that most people will forget about until they absolutely need it, but like Apple Watch, it’s only a matter of time before it makes a real difference in someone’s life.

iOS 16.2 beta 2

Coming via a December update once iOS 16.2 goes public is Custom Accessibility Mode. This new feature, according to 9to5Mac, will provide a more streamlined iOS and iPadOS experience for users who may benefit from a simpler interface. Custom Accessibility Mode will therefore be a Springboard replacement, which is the app icon Home Screen interface that iPhone users have used since the original iPhoneOS 1.0 launch. Upon launch, users will be able to enable Custom Accessibility Mode via SettingsAccessibility.

The Custom Accessibility Mode splash screen, which 9to5Mac unsurprisingly was able to unearth, features three main points:

  • Streamline Home Screen and apps
  • Large text and controls
  • Customizable to accommodate different needs

In a nutshell, it looks like Custom Accessibility Mode will be a simplified version of the iOS interface for users who might benefit from such an experience. Similar to how services like GrandPad make using an Android tablet dead-simple for older users, Custom Accessibility Mode aims to do that, but on iOS. Head over to 9to5Mac to see more pictures of it in action.

Video walkthrough

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5G support for India

iOS 16.2 finally enables 5G support for iPhone users in India. Support will officially launch once iOS 16.2 goes public next month, but beta users in India have confirmed that 5G support is now active while using the 16.2 beta.

Freeform settings panel

The Freeform app that Apple debuted back at WWDC was made available in the initial iOS 16.2 beta. In the second beta, Apple added a settings panel for Freeform that includes alignment guide preferences, as well as software acknowledgements.

‘Everyone’ AirDrop receiving setting for just 10 minutes in China

This is a China-only feature that disables the ability to set AirDrop receiving to Everyone indefinitely. One reason for this change may be to stave off unwanted spam via unsolicited AirDrop sessions.

Music app

The Music app gets a couple of new changes in iOS 16.2 beta 2:

  • Animated album artwork features transparent audio details and Play/Shuffle buttons.
  • Transport controls now feature same button animations as Lock Screen Live Activity.

Live Activities

  • More status bar icons appear next to Dynamic Island
  • Live Activities – More Frequent Updates

Lock Screen

  • Health – Medications Lock Screen widgets
  • Long-press needed to disable Focus on Lock Screen
  • Show Photo in Library option when using photo wallpaper
  • Sleep Mode alarm doesn’t appear on top of Lock Screen album art

iOS 16.2 Beta 1 – what’s new?

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After launching iOS 16.1 to the public, Apple quickly followed up with the initial iOS 16.2 last week. iOS 16.2 brings lots of new changes and features to the table. In this hands-on video walkthrough, I discuss new changes to the Home architecture, the new Freeform app, Siri upgrades, Weather app enhancements, and much more. Watch the video, and be sure to subscribe to Cellular for more hands-on coverage of iOS 16.2.

One of my favorite new features relates to Safari. When using iCloud+ Private Relay feature, you can now disable it directly within Safari on a one-off basis. This makes it so that when visiting websites where the experience is degraded due to iCloud Private Relay, users can quickly disable it to solve issues.

To disable iCloud Private Relay directly from Safari in iOS 16.2, simply tap the ‘Aa’ website settings button, and tap the Turn Off Hide IP Address option. You’ll then get a prompt alerting you that the website and your network provider will be able to see your IP address until you reload the tab or go to another website.

The new Turn Off Hide IP Address Safari feature in iOS 16.2
The new Turn Off Hide IP Address Safari feature in iOS 16.2

Keep in mind that this option will only appear in website settings if you have Private Relay enabled via Settings → iCloud → Private Relay.

There are, of course, many additional new changes and features in iOS 16.2, but this is one that stood out to me. Watch the full video walkthrough embedded above as I step though each new feature in-depth.

What’s new in iOS 16.1 for iPhone?

Today marks the official release of iOS 16.1, the first big update to September’s release of iOS 16. As you will see in my hands-on video walkthrough, iOS 16.1 is packed to the gills with new features and changes.

Some of the changes in iOS 16.1 will have a direct effect on how Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro works, specifically related to the Dynamic Island, but the majority of features apply to all phones eligible for iOS 16. Watch my hands-on iOS 16.1 walkthrough for details on what matters most.

Video walkthrough

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What’s new in iOS 16.1?

  • Redesigned status bar battery indicator
  • Charging status now back on Lock Screen
  • Batteries widget show (other) devices in Low Power Mode (need to update watch)
  • Clean Energy Charging (new Battery Health & Charging heading)
  • Lock Screen clock tint matches album artwork
  • Customize Home Screen wallpaper via Lock Screen (less taps)
  • Updated wallpaper preferences in Settings app (Can now swipe through all configured wallpaper
  • Per-app copy-and-paste permissions
  • Pre-load in-app content
  • Redesigned confirm to download interface in App Store (Larger app icon, cleaner interface)
  • iCloud Shared Photo Library
  • Reachability supports Dynamic Island
  • Visual Dynamic Island bug fixes and improvements
  • Landscape mode support for Dynamic Island
  • Updated Dynamic Island gestures
  • Dynamic Island gets colored outlines when displayed on black BG
  • Live Activities for third-party apps
  • Apple Card savings account (coming soon)
  • Key Sharing in Wallet app
  • Delete Wallet app
  • Apple Fitness+ without Apple Watch
  • Matter accessories support in Home app
  • Books reader controls hidden automatically when reading
  • Disable AirPods Pro 2 touch volume control
  • AirPods icon in Music app
  • Updated SMS junk reporting popup in Messages (need to confirm)
  • Updated Focus mode illustrations
  • Screenshots no longer capture ongoing PiP sessions
  • Updated Screenshot menu icons


iOS 16.1 is a big update, and while iCloud Shared Libraries are arguably the biggest new feature, Live Activities are going to change the way we consume glanceable information from this point forward.

iOS 16 Beta 7 and Apple’s “Far out” iPhone 14 event

What’s new in iOS 16 beta 7?

We’re obviously very close to the iOS 16 Release Candidate, which means we can expect fewer and fewer changes to iOS 16 with each subsequent beta release. We began seeing Apple pull back on new features and changes a few beta releases ago and the same applies with Beta 7.

  • Build number 20A5356a
  • American Express cards might need to be removed and re-added
  • Volume back on Lock Screen
  • Clocked moved up on landscape Notification Center
  • Tweaked date on landscape Notification Center

September 7th Apple event

The big news this week is that Apple’s upcoming iPhone 14 event will be on September 7th, which is less than two weeks away from today.

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The tagline for the event is “Far out.” Some have speculated that this could indicate some relation to astrophotography with the new iPhone 14 Pro camera system? That would be cool, but it’s honestly probably something I’d never use if that turns out to be true.

At the event, which will be held in person, Apple will reveal new iPhone 14 models, including the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max. Sadly, it appears as if the iPhone mini is toast, with the iPhone 14 mini being the last miniature iPhone release. The good news is that Apple will probably continue selling the iPhone 14 mini for a while, just like it sells the iPhone 12 mini today.

The iPhone 14 Max is likely Apple’s response to customers who would prefer a large phone, but don’t want to pay the “pro tax”. The iPhone 14 Pro Max will probably retail under $1000, and there should be a big enough price differential between it and its pro version that users on a budget1 will find it desirable.

But the biggest news rests with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. This year, according to rumors, marks the first time that there will be a very noteworthy difference between the pro and baseline hardware. Rumors indicate that the pro models will be the only ones to receive new A16 Apple Silicon, which is a big departure from previous releases that featured silicon parity across the lineup. The Pro models are also said to include a new redesigned pill shape area to house the TrueDepth camera, while regular iPhone 14 models maintain the notch, along with additional changes.

Although no one can speak matter-of-factly on the event or the hardware currently, the baseline iPhone 14 sounds a bit underwhelming coming from the year-ago model. Granted, people like me who are entrenched in the tech space view these things through a lens that the average person does not. Most people aren’t buying new iPhone years over year, so an iPhone 11 or even iPhone 12 to an iPhone 14 might prove to be a compelling upgrade.

iPadOS officially pushed back to Fall

Conspicuously missing is iPadOS, and upcoming iPad refreshes. After speculation about the current state of Stage Manager for M1-enabled iPads, Apple officially delayed the release of iPadOS 16 to later this fall. Although fall technically begins just 15 days after the iPhone 14 event, the release will likely coincide with an October event where new iPad hardware will be shown. In the meantime, Apple is releasing iPad 16.1 betas for developers to test.


I’m somewhat optimistic about the event. I think the iPhone 14 Pro will be a big of enough year-over-year change that it will represent a compelling upgrade over this year’s model. For everything else? I’m in wait-and-see mode. Of course, there’s also the new watchOS 9 which will launch alongside the new Apple Watch Series 8, and a new Apple Watch Pro. I just really hope they don’t call it that.

  1. Right, “budget” 🤨 []
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