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After months of waiting, Apple now offers the iMessage Contact Key Verification feature in iOS 17.2 Beta 1. As explained by the company before, it is an optional security feature, allowing users to ensure they are talking with the right people.

Apple introduced the feature in iOS 16.6 beta tests months ago but didn’t include it in its final release despite having it in its Release Candidate version. Thankfully, and as expected, it is now included in one of iOS 17’s releases, iOS 17.2.

The feature gives users options to verify that the recipient of their messages is really the person they trust. According to Apple, if an “exceptionally advanced adversary” has managed to eavesdrop on the supposedly encrypted communications, the activated feature will provide automatic alerts. As the company noted, it will benefit people who “face extraordinary digital threats,” including journalists, human rights activists, and government officials.

Apple explains how the feature works in different ways:

With iMessage Contact Key Verification, users can choose to further verify that they are messaging only with the people they intend. iMessage Contact Key Verification uses Key Transparency to enable automatic verification that the iMessage key distribution service returns device keys that have been logged to a verifiable and auditable map. When a user enables the feature, they will be notified about any validation errors directly in the Messages conversation transcript and Apple ID Settings.

For even higher security, iMessage Contact Key Verification users can compare a contact verification code in person, on FaceTime, or through another secure call. They can also choose to create or edit a contact and save a public key to turn on iMessage Contact Key Verification with that person.

Needless to say, the CKV needs devices running iOS 17.2 beta (macOS 17.2 Beta or watchOS 17.2 Beta for other devices). Aside from that, devices would have to be signed into an iCloud account. On the other hand, in order to work with devices running older versions of iOS, you need to sign out of iMessage on the said devices to enable contact key verification. The setting for the feature can be accessed when you tap your name in Settings. The Contact Key Verification option is located at the bottom, and it should give you a toggle button to turn it on.


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