iOS 16.3 public beta released — are there any exciting new features?

Rumored iPhone 15 Ultra may take the place of the Pro Max (iPhone 14 Pro Max shown)
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Apple unleashed iOS 16.3 to public beta testers on Thursday (12/15), allowing users to experiment with the updated software for the first time. This follows the release of the first iOS 16.3 beta to developers on Wednesday.

Users who've signed up for the Apple Beta Software program can explore iOS 16.3 as we speak. Naturally, you may be wondering if there are any cool new features to look forward to with this update. For now, the short answer is no.

iOS 16.3 public beta new features

iOS 16.3 appears to be a less substantial update compared to iOS 16.2, which introduced Apple Music Sing, Freeform, and other exciting features. Still, security-minded users will appreciate the fact that the new update now supports physical security keys, adding a new layer of protection to Apple ID. 

These physical security keys must be FIDO-certified, and no, Apple won't be selling them. However, you can purchase third-party hardware keys, such as this GoTrust Idem Key (opens in new tab) from Amazon, to provide a stronger defense against hackers, cybercriminals, and other nefarious characters.

Another novel feature spotted in iOS 16.3 is a new how-to guide that delves into how users can take advantage of the Handoff feature with their HomePod and iPhone. Handoff lets users launch a task on one Apple device before seamlessly continuing it on another. (By the way, Handoff with HomePod and iPhone is not a new feature; this cool perk launched last year.) 

So far, these are minor changes, but in the near future, there's a chance we could hear about more eye-catching features that will slide into the upcoming, general public release of iOS 16.3.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, iOS 16.3 could officially hit iPhones in February or early March.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!