iOS 17.4 with new emoji, huge changes for EU is almost here


iOS 17.4 logo
iOS 17.4 will bring changes, but you'll have to live in Europe to get most of them.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple just seeded the release candidate of iOS 17.4 to developers. When it goes to the general public — probably next week — it’ll bring in a collection of new emoji to iPhone, and a more secure version of iMessage. For Europeans, the update will be a major one, as it’ll usher in sideloading and other changes.

The release candidate for iPadOS 17.4 also came out Tuesday. However, macOS Sonoma 14.4 is still on beta 5.

iOS 17.4 brings changes both fun and serious

iOS 17.4 will be very unusual, with the list of new features varying by region. Much of the world will get some nice improvements, but E.U. legislation going into effect in early March requires profound changes to iPhone and iPad.

Everyone will get a fresh crop of emoji. The list includes a phoenix, a breaking chain and other emoji that were approved by the Unicode Consortium last year.

This feature gets highlighted in Apple’s release note for the update, which says:

“This update introduces new emoji, transcripts in Apple Podcasts and includes other features, bug fixes, and security updates for your iPhone.”

The note also mentions that, in iOS 17.4, the Apple Podcasts app will be able to automatically generate transcripts for shows.

And Apple is revamping the Battery screen in Settings for iPhone 15 users to show the number of times the battery has charged/discharged — AKA the Cycle Count.

Plus, U.S. users who install the new version will receive an iMessage upgrade with post-quantum cryptography.

A huge update for the EU

Sorry U.S. users but the meat of the iOS 17.4 update is reserved for the European Union. Thanks to the Digital Markets Act, residents of Europe will get iPhone app sideloading and alternative app stores in iOS 17.4. It’ll also usher in more options for default browsers and rendering engines as well as wider access for tap-to-pay payment systems.

iPadOS 17.4 includes the same major changes as the iPhone version.

iOS 17.4 is only for devs … for now

Currently, the release candidates of iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4 are available only for those in Apple’s developer program. Those in Apple’s free public beta program will gain access soon.

The full public release will likely be next week, either Monday, March 4 or Tuesday, March 5.


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