February 22, 2024

Apple released iOS 17.4 beta 1 to public beta testers on Tuesday, a few days after the company released the beta to developers and more than a week after the release of iOS 17.3. The beta brings new features, like major changes for people in the European Union and new emoji, to the iPhones of some developers and beta testers.

Read more: Why You Should Download iOS 17.3 Now

We recommend downloading a beta only on something other than your primary device. Since this isn’t the final version of iOS 17.4, these features might be buggy and battery life may be short, and it’s best to keep those troubles on a secondary device.

If you’re a developer or public beta tester, here are some of the new features you can find in iOS 17.4 beta 1. Note that the beta is not the final version of iOS 17.4, so these might not be the only new features to land on your iPhone when iOS 17.4 is released. There’s no word on the public release for iOS 17.4 just yet, but Apple has indicated it will likely be in March.

Downloading other app stores in the EU

Apple introduced a significant change to Safari, the App Store and iOS with iOS 17.4 beta 1, but only for people in the EU. With iOS 17.4 beta 1, people in the EU can download an alternative app store and apps from outside the App Store. According to CNET’s Katie Collins, this marks one of the largest changes to the App Store since its inception in 2008. People in the EU will also be given new default app controls, giving them more ways to customize their iPhone experience. 

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People in the EU will soon have access to other app stores and more.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple made these changes, which were announced Thursday, to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act. The company said these changes will go into effect once Europeans download iOS 17.4 in March or later. There’s no word on whether these changes will be available globally. 

Read more: Apple Will Allow Installation of Rival App Stores On iPhones In Europe

More options for in-app payments

Apple introduced more ways to make in-app payments with the first iOS 17.4 beta. If you go to Settings > Privacy & Security, you’ll see an option called Contactless & NFC, or near-field communication. If you tap the new option, you’ll be taken to a mostly blank page that has a small disclaimer that says the page will show apps that have requested the ability to use contactless and NFC payments in the future. Apple announced these options alongside the changes for people in the EU, and there’s no word on whether this will be utilized by apps outside that region.

New regional identifier

In the first beta of iOS 17.4, there’s also a new regional identifier. If you go to Settings > General > About and scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll see Identifiable_Region. There is a link to learn more about the feature, but it doesn’t appear to work at this time. This indicator might be a way for Apple to identify who is in the EU and can have the new settings mentioned above, but it’s unclear at this time.

At least 100 new emoji

New emoji to come to iPhones with the first iOS 17.4 developer beta

Some of the new emoji coming to iOS 17.4 include a phoenix, a slice of lime and broken chains.

Emojipedia

Apple introduced over 100 new emoji to iPhone users with the first beta of iOS 17.4. Those emoji include heads shaking up and down as well as left and right, a phoenix emoji and a slice of lime. These emoji were announced in 2023, and some Android devices, including the latest Samsung phones, already have them.

More Stolen Device Protection options

With iOS 17.4 beta 1, Apple introduced a few new options in Stolen Device Protection. The new options let you choose whether you want to always require a one-hour Security Delay to access certain settings or make changes, or to only require the delay when you’re away from a familiar location like your home. 

Apple introduced Stolen Device Protection with iOS 17.3, and the intent of the feature is to protect some of your data if your device is stolen or falls into nefarious hands. The feature doesn’t protect all your data, but Apple still recommends everyone turn it on.

Podcasts can now show transcripts

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You can read a transcript of your favorite podcasts with the first iOS 17.4 beta.

Apple

In the first iOS 17.4 beta, you can read the transcripts of your favorite Podcasts as you listen to them. To see the transcripts, go into Podcasts and start listening to a show, tap the show’s banner across the bottom of your screen. Then, look at the bottom of the show’s title card and you’ll see a new button in the bottom left corner that looks like a speech bubble with quotes inside it. Tap this button and you’ll see the transcript of the show you’re listening to. You can search within the transcript, too, so if someone mentions a book or movie title and you only remember part of it, you can search the part you do know and find the whole title. 

New Home page in the Music app

Apple introduced a Home button in Apple Music with iOS 17.4 beta 1. If you open the app and look at the bottom of your screen, the Home button replaced the Listen Now button in the far left corner. If you tap this button and you subscribe to Apple Music, you’re taken to a page that shows you menus, like Recently Played, and recommendations based on artists you’ve listened to. 

Siri can send messages in more than one language

With the first iOS 17.4 beta, Apple gave Siri the ability to send messages in multiple languages. If you go to Settings > Siri & Search, you’ll see the option Messaging with Siri, which replaced Automatically Send Messages. Tap Messaging with Siri and you’ll see Add Language. If you tap this, you can have Siri send messages in other languages, like Arabic, Spanish and Thai. Apple writes that Siri will also read messages using the languages in this list, but choosing one from this list won’t change the primary language Siri listens and responds in. Prior to this, Siri could only send messages in English.

Those are some of the new features developers and beta testers will see in the first iOS 17.4 beta. That doesn’t mean these are the only features coming to the next iOS update, or that these changes will stick when iOS 17.4 is released to the public. As of right now, there’s no exact release date for iOS 17.4, but Apple has indicated it might be released in March.

For more on iOS 17, check out what was included in iOS 17.3 and iOS 17.2. You can also check out our iOS 17 cheat sheet.

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