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All the new features in iOS 17.4 — New emoji, EU App Store changes, unreleased devices, and more!

The first beta of iOS 17.4 has arrived and is an unusually large update. Aside from new features and new emoji, Apple is also allowing third-party app stores for the EU, and there are references to unreleased devices. Here's what's in the update.

Developers got their first look at iOS 17.4 this week, ahead of a likely public beta. The update, build number 21E5184i, was a big 6GB on our iPhone 15 Pro Max.

iOS 17.4: Big changes for EU users

The biggest change in iOS 17.4 isn't coming to everybody. It's Apple's compliance with an EU ruling that mandated Apple allow installation of apps outside of the App Store, allowing for third party app marketplaces for the first time.

This will apply to EU users only. Users outside of this geographic area will be unaffected by these changes.

To support this, Apple has added over 600 new developer APIs and laid the groundwork for new payment options, security measures, and more.

Other areas Apple is opening up iOS in the EU include support for third parties to use the NFC chip for contactless payments, third party default browsers, and third party web engines.

Due to these changes, we've seen a few tweaks in the iOS settings with iOS 17.4. There is a new region identifier in the About screen and there's new privacy options for Contactless & NFC.

iOS 17.4: New features

One of our favorite new features is in the updated Podcasts app. It has added a new dialogue box icon in the lower-left corner, mimicking the one found in the Music app.

The Music app one will show the lyrics, while the Podcasts app will transcribe any podcast episode. It even uses a podcast's chapter markers as headers for each section.

Transcribed text follows along with the words as they're spoken and users can search a transcription for any keyword they want to find. The text can be copied too, if you'd like to share it in another app.

Speaking of the Music app, Apple has removed the "Listen Now" button and replaced it with a "Home" button. This seems like a good move and is more clear about its purpose.

Stolen Device Protection, which arrived in iOS 17.3, is already seeing an update. As many users had requested, there is a new option to have it enabled all the time, and not just when away from safe locations.

When reading back messages, Siri can now respond back in multiple languages. Users can choose the different languages Siri supports and install them via Settings.

For gaming, Apple will officially allow streaming catalog apps. Ones like GeForce Now that houses a bunch of different games rather than making them individual downloads.

Users will also soon be able to bring two phones together to join a gaming session. This isn't released yet but is done over GameCenter.

CarPlay app and alert icons found in the iOS 17.4 beta (Source: Steve Moser)

It appears that the revamped version of CarPlay will be launching in new vehicles with iOS 17.4. There are tons of new icons and apps for CarPlay 2.0 and it will even sign off with a script "goodbye," similar to the "hello" script welcome screen on Mac.

iOS 17.4: New emoji

There are more than 100 new emoji contained in iOS 17.4 when different genders and skin tones are taken into consideration.

New emoji in iOS 17.4 such as Phoenix, brown mushroom, broken chain, shaking heads, and lime.
Some of the new emoji in iOS 17.4

Our favorites include a lime, a phoenix, a brown mushroom, and a shaking head face. Others include various family icons, a broken chain, and people doing different acts facing in certain directions.

These new emoji come from the September 2024 emoji 15.1 recommendation from Unicode and will slowly roll out to other platforms as well.

iOS 17.4: New devices coming soon

Aside from all the new features and changes, Apple also inadvertently left some references to unreleased devices within the new code.

Code sleuths were able to uncover text strings that mention a landscape camera for iPad Pro. Thus far, a landscape camera has only appeared on the 10th-generation iPad.

There also were references to the unannounced third-generation Apple Pencil. The new Apple Pencil will seemingly support Find My, making it easier to locate.

When is iOS 17.4 being released?

Apple has not officially announced when iOS 17.4 will be released, but since March 8 is the deadline for Apple to comply with the ruling in the EU, it will presumably launch just before then. March 8 is a Friday, so we're guessing iOS 17.4 will arrive on March 4 or March 5.

This is only the first beta of this massive update so it will likely be several weeks before it's available to all users.