iOS 16 can prove to websites that you’re human and let you skip CAPTCHAs

Apple’s iOS 16 supports automatic verification in compatible apps and websites, allowing you to bypass CAPTCHA prompts while still proving you’re human.

Two iPhones, one on the left is running iOS 15 and showing CAPTCHA verification on the Financial Times website in Safari and the other bypassing CAPTCHA thanks to iOS 16
Image: Apple
  • iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura permit you to bypass annoying CAPTCHAs in apps and websites that have elected to support this feature.
  • Instead of bothering you to hit images of traffic lights like an animal just to prove you’re human, this feature “just works.”
  • In a nutshell, Apple’s system replaces CAPTCHA verification with private access tokens that securely prove that you’re not a robot without having to do a thing.

iOS 16 lets you bypass CAPTCHA prompts

Logging in to apps and websites, as well as creating new accounts, will become a frictionless process when Apple launches iOS 16 for everyone this fall thanks to its support for automatic verification via private access tokens. Apple has detailed this feature in a developer session video published on its website.

A CAPTCHA can be just a simple button to press. But more often than not, CAPTCHAs can be a challenge to fill in order to prevent fraudulent activity. You could be asked to click on an image with traffic lights or type in a phrase printed in the squiggly text just to prove that you’re human and not a robot.

Apple’s solution involves using private access tokens to log you into compatible apps and websites, bypassing a CAPTCHA prompt completely. If your Apple ID account is in good standing and your device hasn’t been tampered with, the feature will sign you in using a private access token. Apple has designed this feature to elevate your privacy over annoying CAPTCHAs which often rely on tracking or fingerprinting you by logging your device’s IP address. Read: How to manage trusted devices for Apple ID two-factor authentication

How to use automatic verification for apps and websites

Apple's illustration showing how private access tokens make CAPTCHA-less automatic verification in apps and on websites possible
Image: Apple

The ability to bypass CAPTCHA can be toggled on or off at will in the Password & Security section of the Apple ID settings on your iPhone, iPad or Mac.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad powered by iOS 16 or iPadOS 16, respectively. On your Mac, click the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences.”
  2. Hit your Apple ID profile name and image at the top of the Settings app on your iPhone/iPad. On your Mac, click “Apple ID” in the System Preferences window.
  3. Choose “Password & Security” from the list of iCloud services and features.
  4. Slide the “Automatic Verification” switch underneath the “Advanced” heading to either the ON or OFF position to toggle this feature on or off.

Turning on automatic verification will let you “bypass CAPTCHAs in apps and on the web by allowing iCloud to automatically and privately verify your device and account,” according to Apple’s description of the feature. The ability to bypass CAPTCHA in apps and on websites is turned on by default in the first developer betas of iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS Maverick.

What are private access tokens?

This feature does not “just work” without support on the other end. Meaning, that an app or a website must deploy code to handle these private access tokens. As MacRumors notes, Cloudflare and Fastly have already announced support for private access tokens. Both services are Apple’s partners for iOS 15’s iCloud Private Relay feature, which is still in beta. In other words, the ability to bypass CAPTCHAs could be coming to millions of apps and websites powered by Cloudflare and Fastly. Read: How to see which Mac apps can access photos, camera, mic and more

Apple says that private access tokens take advantage of technology that is being standardized in the IETF Privacy Pass working group. For more info on private access tokens and eliminating CAPTCHAs in iOS 16, read detailed explainers on the Cloudflare blog and the Fastly blog.

When will iOS 16 launch publicly?

This automatic verification capability is available on the iPhone, iPad and Mac with the respective iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS 13 Ventura updates. It first appeared in the developer beta of iOS 16 which was released following the conclusion of Apple’s June 6 WWDC 2022 keynote. iOS 16 and other Apple OS updates will arrive for everyone this fall, so that’s when non-developers and other users will be able to install the update and take iOS 16’s CAPTCHA-killing feature for a spin.