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iOS 17.4 Update Arrives: All-New Features and App Store Changes

nextpit Apple iPhone 15 DIsplay Review
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After several beta revisions, Apple finally rolled out iOS 17.4 to the public, which is the fourth major iOS 17 update. While this brings comprehensive changes in the EU in compliance with the DMA (Digital Markets Act), there are also notable iterations and new features for users in other regions. Here's what's new in iOS 17.4.

Apple is opening its walled garden in Europe

Having already debuted in the first iOS 17.4 beta, the firmware is finally allowing third-party app stores and users to install/sideload apps from these stores apart from the Apple App Store. Even the ability for users to set the default app store to a third-party option is now possible. In addition, users can also replace Safari as the default web browser with a third-party browser.

With this update, app developers and businesses can offer alternative payment options for their users and customers. For example, developers can provide payment links to let users pay for services or goods outside of Apple's payment system. However, there are still terms and conditions for app providers to follow, such as using only verified and secured payment methods and limiting a €0.50 transaction fee per app for each user.

Another related payment feature that EU companies can benefit from is the enabling of NFC chip access in iPhones. In other words, banks and digital payment channels such as apps and wallets can allow their users to enjoy contactless or tap-to-pay options when making a payment in stores using their iPhone. Previously, this was limited to just Apple Pay.

Not only that, users can choose a different default digital wallet app and payment method on their Apple handsets apart from Apple Pay.

New features for all users

Apart from the EU, there are meaningful changes that iPhone and iPad users outside the region can take advantage of as well.

Apple iOS 17.4 software update what is new and changes
Apple's iOS 17.4 changelog for non-EU and new detailed Battery Health / © nextpit

Standalone streaming game apps

One new feature is support for streaming game services like Xbox Cloud Gaming to bring dedicated iOS and iPadOS apps instead of having these on the web previously. Even better yet, Apple's in-payment system will be supported with chatbot apps, mini games, and plug-ins.

Podcasts and Apple Music

As with other features, Podcasts can now show the transcript which is the equivalent of lyrics on Apple Music when playing songs. There is a minor interface update with Podcasts and Apple Music apps, too, which has been renamed to the Listen Now tab to Home. Meanwhile, recognized tracks from the Apple Music recognition feature can now be added to Apple Music's playlists and library.

Improved security

In terms of security, Stolen Device Protection receives options of security delay to be set between the time when you are away from familiar locations or always on. Furthermore, the iPhone manufacturer will adopt a new security protocol called PQ3 or post-quantum cryptographic protocol on iMessage for iPhone and iPad that protects users from attacks that leverage quantum computing.

Better usability

Exclusive for iPhone 15 (review) users is a new detailed battery health status in the Battery section. This includes the battery cell's manufactured date, cycle count, and first use, among others.

Apple introduced hand gesture reactions to FaceTime and video calls on iOS 17 and iPadOS 17. However, there were instances of these being triggered accidentally and creating awkward moments. With the latest iOS firmware, Apple provides users the option to disable the reactions feature.

Elsewhere, there are minor additions available with the update including new Clock widgets, Live Activity for Stopwatch on Dynamic Island, and the lock screen. Over in the USA, Apple Card users can generate virtual card numbers when performing online transactions.

Apple also mentioned vital bug and security fixes with iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4 to address existing vulnerabilities.

Have you updated to iOS 17.4? What features and changes do you look forward to trying first? Let's discuss your answers in the comments.

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Jade Bryan

Jade Bryan
Junior Editor

I still remember how amazed I was when I first got hold of the Nokia 3210 back when I was a kid, and it was during that time I developed my love for technology, particularly for mobile phones. I started sharing my knowledge through writing in different blogs and forums back in Nokia Nseries era. I even make videos before where I put different phones side-by-side. Today, I'm still an avid enthusiast of smartphones, but my interests have evolved into smart devices and electric vehicles.

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