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iOS 17.4 is here with alternative marketplaces, quantum protections, & battery health updates

Apple is ready for the DMA

Apple has to comply with the Digital Markets Act, making iOS 17.4 one of the biggest single updates ever, and it is now available to the public.

The latest versions of iOS and the other operating systems have arrived just in time for the EU's Digital Markets Act deadline of March 6. The launch of iOS 17.4 follows iOS 17.3, which released January 22, and iOS 17.2, which released December 11.

The build number for iOS 17.4 is 21E219. It replaces the previous release, iOS 17.3.1, which was build number 21D61.

At the same time as iOS 17.4, Apple has released updates for iOS 16.7.6, build 20H320, and iOS 15.8.2, build 19H384.

The underlying technologies behind Apple's answer to the DMA required more than 600 new APIs, expanded app analytics, functionality for alternative browser engines, and options for processing payments and distributing iOS apps. This change alone makes iOS 17.4 a contender for biggest iOS update ever, at least for developers in the EU.

There's too many details to dive into here, but the simple overview is Apple enables third-party app makers to opt for alternative distribution methods. That means apps can be downloaded from alternative marketplaces that aren't the Apple App Store.

For everyone outside the EU, iOS 17.4 is a little more mundane. It includes updates to the Battery Health menu in Settings, automatic transcripts in Apple Podcasts, a new toggle for Stolen Device Protection, and new emoji.

  • The Settings, Battery menu has more information under "Battery Health," including Maximum Capacity percentage and Cycle Count, but only for the iPhone 15 lineup
  • Video reactions are can be set off by default by developers
  • The toggle for Spatial Video capture in Camera settings now explains that 3D video takes up twice the space as 2D video
  • Apple Wallet includes new permissions for providing anonymized transaction data to Apple
  • Apple Podcasts has a now playing bar that hovers above the UI similar to the one in visionOS
  • Apple Podcasts now includes machine-parsed transcripts
  • Owners of compatible vehicles with smart instrument clusters can display information from CarPlay
  • Stolen Device Protection includes a new setting that disables the trusted locations feature
  • Siri can now respond in multiple languages

Another significant, if invisible feature is included in iOS 17.4 called PQ3, or post-quantum computing level 3. It's a defense against a potential future where quantum computing can crack iMessage encryption.

Despite being introduced with iOS 17.2, Apple still hasn't offered any material improvements to the Journal app. The basic functionality works, but power users still wait for basic features like search and advanced filtering.

To update devices to iOS 17.4 manually, navigate to Settings, General, then Software Update. Those with automatic updates enabled will see it install within the next few days.