Try these exciting iOS 17.4 features on your iPhone now


iOS 17.4 release notes
iOS 17.4 is here with several major changes and features.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Apple just dropped iOS 17.4, bringing a plethora of new features — some of which fundamentally change how the iPhone works.

The biggest point update to iOS 17, iOS 17.4 comes almost six months after the operating system’s initial release. It enables support for third-party app stores, browsers and payment apps on the iPhone. The bummer? These major changes are only coming to the European Union. Still, there are a lot of new iOS 17.4 features that will enhance the experience of every iPhone user.

All the new iOS 17.4 features

Apple crammed iOS 17.4 with features and significant changes. Many of them result from the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which goes into effect soon, forcing Apple to make some fundamental changes to its mobile OS.

If you want to try the new iOS 17.4 features, first you need to install iOS 17.4 on your iPhone from Settings > General > Software Update.

EU-specific changes

NFC access to third-party payment apps

Apple is opening the iPhone’s NFC chip to third-party payment and banking apps in iOS 17.4. So, for the first time, iPhone users in Europe can use a non-Apple Pay payment service to make contactless payments in-store.

You can set a default payment app from the Settings menu. iOS 17.4 will also show the apps granted access to the NFC chip for contactless payment.

Third-party browser engines

Another significant EU-specific change in iOS 17.4 is support for third-party browser engines. While Chrome, Firefox and Edge are available for iOS, they use the same WebKit rendering engine as Safari due to the platform’s restrictions.

With iOS 17.4, Apple is opening its mobile platform to third-party browser changes.

Third-party app stores

Apple revealed the iPhone app sideloading rules for the EU
Sideloading applications onto an iPhone comes with a lot of rules.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

iOS 17.4 paves the way for third-party app stores and sideloading on the iPhone, at least in the European Union. Apple was against the iPhone sideloading provision in the EU’s Digital Markets Act. But since it lost, the company has no option but to adhere to the changes.

So, with iOS 17.4, the company is opening iOS to third-party app stores and sideloading. In typical Apple style, though, there are a lot of restrictions and clauses here. Apple must approve every app before it is available for sideloading. And developers can only offer them for download through alternative app stores. (Some developers lashed out at Apple’s onerous rules as “malicious compliance” with the EU’s new rules.)

EU developers are free to use non-Apple in-app payment systems in their apps. These changes might not be visible immediately after iOS 17.4’s release, but developers should quickly adopt them.

Developers in the EU have the option of adopting Apple’s new business terms. Under this, they will have to pay 0.5 euros per user per year, with no other fees applicable. The first million installations will be free. You can find more information about this in Apple’s announcement from January 2024.

iOS 17.4 enhancements for everyone

Stolen Device Protection improvements

iOS 17.4 improves the iPhone’s Stolen Device Protection feature with an “Always” security delay for changing the security settings. (On iOS 17.3, you could change the security settings on your iPhone after an hour from unfamiliar locations.)

While small, the change will help keep your Apple account and iPhone secure in case of theft.

Messaging with Siri

iOS 17.4 renames Siri’s “Automatically Send Messages” feature to “Messaging with Siri.” More importantly, you can specify multiple languages in which Siri can send messages. Apple’s voice assistant was previously limited to sending messages in English.

Transcript support in Podcasts

Apple Podcasts transcripts
Apple Podcasts transcripts
Photo: Apple

iOS 17.4 introduces automatic transcript support in Apple’s Podcasts app. When playing a podcast, you need to tap the first icon at the bottom from the left, which looks like a speech bubble within quotes. The show’s transcript should then appear on your iPhone’s display.

You also can search through the transcript to directly jump to that part of the podcast.

Emoji 15.1

Apple is adding 118 emoji from the Emoji 15.1 release to iOS 17.4. They include a phoenix, a lime and smileys shaking their heads up and down.

The new emoji could help you express yourself better when talking to friends or family.

All the new emoji in iOS 17.4 beta 1.
Enjoy these new emoji on your iPhone after updating to iOS 17.4.
Photo: Emojipedia

Fortified iMessage security

iMessage will gain post-quantum cryptography (PQC) security in iOS 17.4. This won’t affect your ongoing conversations in the Messages app. But once you and your friends’ iPhones are on iOS 17.4, a cutting-edge security protocol will protect all your texts.

Revamped Battery Health menu

With iOS 17.4, the iPhone 15 will get a revamped Battery Health menu, showing the battery’s condition as “Normal” if its capacity is not a concern. Tapping on this menu will provide more detailed information, like the cycle count and capacity percentage.

This change comes within weeks of Apple announcing that the iPhone 15’s battery does not wear out as fast as initially thought.

Previous models will stick to the older menu, requiring you to head inside the Battery Health submenu to know the cell’s condition.

Cloud-based game services on the App Store

Apple is changing its stance on cloud gaming services with the release of iOS 17.4. The company will allow game streaming apps like Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming to launch dedicated apps on the App Store.

Apple previously limited such services from displaying their game collections through the iOS web browser.

Virtual card number in Apple Cash

iOS 17.4 brings a new feature to the Wallet app: the ability to create a virtual debit card number for Apple Cash. This is a convenient option for making secure payments online or in stores where Apple Pay isn’t accepted.

Using a virtual card number prevents you from sharing your actual card details for added security.

Disable Hand gesture reactions in third-party apps

Apple is introducing a new API in iOS 17.4 that will allow developers to turn off the hand gesture reactions in their video calling apps. Starting with iOS 17, you could make certain hand gestures to trigger reactions while on a video call, whether on FaceTime or third-party apps. Since there was no way to turn off each gesture reaction, many iPhone users inadvertently triggered them.

An API in iOS 17.4 will fix that, allowing developers to turn off each gesture individually.

iOS 17.4 release notes

You can find Apple’s official iOS 17.4 release notes highlighting all the changes below.


  • New mushroom, phoenix, lime, broken chain, and shaking heads emoji are now available in the emoji keyboard.
  • 18 people and body emoji add the option to face them in either direction.

Apple Podcasts

  • Transcripts let you follow an episode with text that highlights in sync with the audio in English, Spanish, French and German.
  • Episode text can be read in full, searched for a word or phrase, tapped to play from a specific point and used with accessibility features such as Text Size, Increase Contrast and VoiceOver.

This update includes the following enhancements and bug fixes:

  • Music recognition lets you add songs you have identified to your Apple Music Playlists and Library, as well as Apple Music Classic.
  • Siri has a new option to announce messages you receive in any supported language.
  • Stolen Device Protection supports the option for increased security in all locations.
  • Battery Health in Settings shows battery cycle count, manufacture date, and first use on iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models.
  • Call Identification displays Apple-verified business name, logo and department name when available.
  • Business updates in Messages for Business provide trusted information for order status, flight notifications, fraud alerts or other transactions you opt into.
  • Apple Cash virtual card numbers enable you to pay with Apple Cash at merchants that don’t yet accept Apple Pay by typing in your number from Wallet or using Safari AutoFill.
  • Fixes an issue where contact pictures are blank in Find My.
  • Fixes an issue for Dual SIM users where the phone number changes from primary to secondary and is visible to a group they have messaged.

What are your favorite new iOS 17.4 features? Let us know in the comments below.


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