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iOS 16.3: Best iPhone Features to Try Now

New features are really what updates are all about.

Zachary McAuliffe Staff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
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Zachary McAuliffe
3 min read
iOS 16 logo next to an iPhone with the Apple logo on the display
Rafael Henrique/Getty Images

Apple released iOS 16.3 in January, and the update brought some much needed bug fixes and security updates to make your iPhone run more smoothly. The update also brings some useful new features to your iPhone, like security keys and an update to emergency SOS via satellite. 

The iOS 16.3 update was released alongside updates for other Apple software, too, like iPadOS, Safari and previous versions of iOS. The latest iOS update arrived about a month after the release of iOS 16.2.

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Here are the new features landing on your iPhone with iOS 16.3.

Security keys come to Apple ID

Users can now use third-party security keys instead of two-factor authentication for their Apple ID. 

Security keys are a lot like keys to your home. You still use passwords, but this extra layer of security can help protect you against phishing scams and hackers.

Security Keys screen in iOS 16.3 beta

Security keys add more protection to your device.

Screenshot by Zach McAuliffe/CNET

"Hardware security keys are very, very secure," Diya Jolly, chief product officer of authentication service company Okta, told CNET's Stephen Shankland.

Apple's security keys feature only works with FIDO Alliance-certified security keys.

Support for the second-gen HomePod

Apple's iOS 16.3 software adds support for the second-generation HomePod, which is out now and costs $299 (£299, AU$479). Apple announced the release of the new HomePod four days before the latest iOS software was made available.

New Unity wallpaper for Black History Month

A green, black and red wallpaper
Screenshot by Zach McAuliffe/CNET

The latest iOS update includes a new iPhone wallpaper as part of Apple's Black Unity Collection. The collection celebrates Black History Month with a special-edition Apple Watch Black Unity Sport Loop, a mosaic watch face and the new iPhone wallpaper. Apple also plans to release a selection of Black History Month content for Apple TVFitness Plus, Music, Maps, Books, Podcasts and the App Store as part of the collection.

New ways to use Emergency SOS via satellite

Emergency SOS via satellite was introduced at Apple's event in September. In iOS 16.3, the Call with Hold option has been replaced with Call with Hold and Release. If you enable Call with Hold and Release, you can hold the side button and a volume button to initiate a countdown and an alarm. After the countdown, you release the buttons and your iPhone will call emergency services on its own. Before with Call with Hold, pressing the side button and a volume button would first bring up the Emergency SOS call slider. If you continued to hold the buttons, a countdown started and an alarm would go off. After the countdown ended, your phone would make an emergency call.

There's also an option to Call Quietly in Emergency SOS. By enabling this option, when you try to make an emergency SOS call, your phone won't start flashing or making an alarm sound.

Here is Apple's list of new features and changes included in iOS 16.3:

  • New Unity wallpaper honors Black history and culture in celebration of Black History Month.
  • Security Keys for Apple ID allow users to strengthen the security of their account by requiring a physical security key as part of the two factor authentication sign in process on new devices.
  • Support for HomePod (second generation).
  • Emergency SOS calls now require holding the side button with the up or down volume button and then releasing in order to prevent inadvertent emergency calls.
  • Fixes an issue in Freeform where some drawing strokes created with Apple Pencil or your finger may not appear on shared boards.
  • Addresses an issue where the wallpaper may appear black on the Lock Screen.
  • Fixes an issue where horizontal lines may temporarily appear while waking up iPhone 14 Pro Max.
  • Fixes an issue where the Home Lock Screen widget does not accurately display Home app status.
  • Addresses an issue where Siri may not respond properly to music requests.
  • Resolves issues where Siri requests in CarPlay may not be understood correctly.

For more iOS 16 news, see what new features were added in iOS 16.2 and iOS 16.1. Here's how you can sign up to test Apple's iOS beta software, too.

Watch this: iOS 16: Powerful Features You May Have Missed