What’s New In iOS 17.4 Beta – Features and Changes

Apple has released the first beta version of iOS 17.4 Beta, giving users a glimpse into the new features and changes coming to iPhones in the next major software update. iOS 17.4 beta 1 introduces several noteworthy improvements and additions that enhance the overall user experience. In this article, we will explore the most important updates found in iOS 17.4 beta 1.

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The iOS 17.4 beta 1 update comes with bug fixes, performance improvements, and new features. The update is available for developers and public beta testers. It can be downloaded over-the-air once the proper developer or public beta profile has been installed.

Some of the major changes in iOS 17.4 beta 1 include support for third-party app stores in the EU, updates to default web browser and email app options, new emoji characters, enhanced privacy protections, improvements to Siri, and more. Let’s take a closer look at what’s new.

How To Support for Third-Party App Stores in EU

One of the most notable changes in iOS 17.4 beta is support for third-party app stores in the European Union. Apple was required to allow alternative app stores in the EU as part of the Digital Markets Act.

This change means users in the EU can now install apps from third-party stores directly on their iPhones and iPads. Users won’t be restricted only to the official App Store. This provides more choice for users in downloading apps.

However, Apple has implemented certain restrictions to ensure security and privacy. Third-party stores will still need to comply with App Store guidelines and will be carefully vetted by Apple. Downloaded apps may also have limited access to some iOS functions compared to App Store apps.

Overall, though, this change represents a major shift in Apple’s typically closed iOS ecosystem. It remains to be seen what impact this has on users and developers in the EU.

How To Changes to Default Apps

Another notable change in iOS 17.4 beta is the ability to set third-party apps as defaults for web browsing and email.

Previously, Apple only allowed its own Safari browser and Mail app to be set as defaults. Now, third-party browsers and email clients can be selected as the default options.

For example, users can set Chrome or Firefox as the default web browser instead of Safari. Google’s Gmail app or Microsoft Outlook can replace Apple Mail as the default email client.

This change gives users more choice over the default apps they use for browsing and email. However, Apple still maintains control over what apps can be set as defaults for certain functions.

How To use New Emoji Characters

iOS 17.4 beta 1 introduces over 100 new emoji characters available across Apple platforms.

The new emoji include cute animals like a goose, moose, and donkey. Food emoji get updated with blueberries, pea pod, ginger, and salt. New facial expressions and hand gestures are added as well.

Apple has also redesigned some existing emoji in iOS 17.4 to make them more inclusive and accessible. This includes changes to the existing crown, pregnant person, and handshake emoji.

These new and redesigned emoji will allow for more diverse representation and better communication through emoji. It keeps the iOS emoji library fresh and up-to-date.

Stolen Device Protection

A new security feature called Stolen Device Protection makes it harder for thieves to access an iPhone that’s been stolen.

If Find My is enabled, Stolen Device Protection will turn on automatically when an iPhone is put into Lost Mode. It prevents anyone from erasing and reactivating the stolen iPhone without the proper login credentials.

This feature provides an extra layer of protection on lost or stolen devices. Even if the iPhone is wiped and erased, activation will be blocked unless the proper Apple ID and password are entered correctly.

Stolen Device Protection makes stolen iPhones less valuable to thieves, as the devices cannot be easily erased and resold. It’s a strong new deterrent against iPhone theft.

Siri Language Selection

Siri in iOS 17.4 gains the ability to read incoming messages in a language that differs from the primary system language.

For example, if an iPhone is set to English but a user gets a message in Spanish, Siri can now read that Spanish message back in proper Spanish pronunciation.

Previously, Siri would read all messages in the default system language, even if they were originally in another language. This new feature allows for more natural and accurate readout of incoming messages.

It allows Siri to handle multilingual messages more seamlessly on iOS. Users who frequently get messages in multiple languages will benefit most from this update.

Gaming Features

iOS 17.4 beta introduces new gaming-focused features and changes. This includes support for the latest controllers from Sony and Nintendo.

The DualSense edge controller from PlayStation and new controllers from Nintendo’s Switch system will now work with games on iPhone and iPad. iOS 17.4 enables these advanced controllers to pair with Apple devices.

Additionally, Game Center has been updated with SharePlay support. This allows users to enjoy multiplayer games online together through FaceTime.

These additions enhance the overall gaming experience on Apple’s mobile devices. More controller support and SharePlay integration position iOS as a versatile gaming platform.

What Alternative Payment Options

As part of compliance with new digital regulations in Europe, iOS 17.4 beta enables alternative payment options for apps.

In the Netherlands and Belgium, developers can now utilize third-party payment systems for in-app transactions. Users can pay using payment providers other than Apple’s App Store system.

This change provides users more choice in how they pay within apps. However, developers must still pay Apple’s commission on transactions, even those that avoid Apple’s payment system.

It’s uncertain if these alternative payments will meaningfully impact app monetization. But it does represent a slight loosening of Apple’s control over payments on iOS.

Other Changes and Updates

  • Emergency SOS via satellite: iOS 17.4 expands Emergency SOS via satellite to more countries. It will be supported in France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK. This life-saving safety feature launched first in the US and Canada.
  • Home architecture updates: The architecture behind the Home app has been updated to make smart home devices more responsive. There are improvements to networking protocols and underlying frameworks.
  • Crash detection optimization: The crash detection feature released in iOS 16 gets improved accuracy in detecting severe collisions. This helps reduce false positives.
  • Live Activities API: Developers can now integrate Live Activities for real-time updates from third-party apps. This allows iOS to display notifications from apps like sports scores and ride-sharing.
  • Always-on display: The always-on display feature on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max has new customizations. There are options to show wallpaper color and notifications when the screen is dimmed.


The first iOS 17.4 beta release brings meaningful improvements through new features, security enhancements, API updates, and compliance changes. Support for third-party app stores marks a major strategic shift for Apple’s typically closed iOS environment.

Other notable changes like anti-theft protection, Siri language selection, alternative payments, controller support, and Live Activities integration demonstrate Apple’s aim to refine iOS as a versatile computing platform.

While only available in beta initially, the iOS 17.4 update will eventually ship to all supported iPhone models. This means even users of older iPhones can benefit from features like new emoji, default app switching, and the many other enhancements packed into iOS 17.4.

The beta period allows Apple to test performance and stability before the official public release. There will likely be subsequent beta versions that introduce further refinements.

Overall, iOS 17.4 beta 1 kicks off the development cycle for Apple’s next milestone iOS update. It provides an exciting first look at the future direction of iOS.

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