The final version of iOS 17.3 has only just landed but already the first iOS 17.4 beta has emerged, giving us a good idea of what’s coming next for your iPhone.
The highlight – at least for those in the EU – is that third-party app stores will soon be allowed on iPhone, as will true third-party browsers (rather than the current system where third-party browsers are little more than reskinned versions of Safari).
But while these changes have grabbed most of the headlines, they’re not the only updates and improvements that are packed into the iOS 17.4 beta. Below, you’ll find the other highlights, which have been spotted by MacRumors and others.
1. Game streaming apps
One big change that’s coming worldwide rather than just to the EU is that game streaming apps will now be allowed by Apple.
That means the likes of Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now will be able to exist as dedicated apps, where previously you could only access them through a browser. That should make the process of game streaming on an iPhone slicker than it used to be.
2. A new Apple Pencil
Not technically an iOS 17.4 feature, but 9to5Mac has found evidence within internal iOS 17.4 files that Apple is working on an Apple Pencil 3 that would stand out from its predecessors by working with the Find My app.
That should make it easy to locate the stylus if you lose it, and being so small it's exactly the sort of thing you might lose, so this would be a useful feature to have.
It's not clear exactly when this Apple Pencil would launch though, and nor is it known whether it would support Ultra Wideband technology for precise location tracking, or whether its approximate last location would just be shown on a map.
3. Podcast transcripts
Much like Apple Music can display lyrics to the song you’re listening to, the Podcasts app can now show transcripts of the podcast you’re playing.
As with Apple Music, words will be highlighted when they’re read, but unlike Apple Music these transcripts are automatically generated.
4. An improvement to Stolen Device Protection
Apple added Stolen Device Protection with iOS 17.3, allowing you to require Face ID or Touch ID when performing sensitive actions, even once the phone is unlocked, as well as requiring a delay before changes can be made to certain settings, such as disabling Find My iPhone.
With the iOS 17.4 beta, this feature gets a little bit better, as you can now choose whether you want that delay to always be required or only when you’re away from a ‘familiar location’, such as your home or work.
5. Additional emoji
There are also six new emoji in the iOS 17.4 beta. Specifically there’s a nodding head, a head shaking as if to say ‘no’, a slice of lime, a phoenix, a broken chain, and a brown mushroom.
6. Siri goes multilingual
With the iOS 17.4 beta, you can set Siri to read messages using a language of your choice, without changing the primary language of Siri. So for example you could keep Siri’s primary language (used for listening and responding) to English, but have it read out messages in Spanish. This sounds like a niche feature but is sure to help some people.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.