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Before iOS 18 Is Released, Don't Miss These iOS 17.4 Features

Some of these features aren't as obvious as others, like all the new emoji.

Zachary McAuliffe Staff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
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Zachary McAuliffe
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Apple announced iOS 18 at its WWDC 2024 event on June 10, but don't forget to check out all the new features the tech giant included in iOS 17.4. That update for the iPhone OS was released on March 5 and it brought major changes for people in the European Unionnew emoji and important bug fixes

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Here's what iOS 17.4 brought to your iPhone.

Read more: Why Apple's WWDC Presentation Changed My Mind About iOS 18

Downloading other app stores in the EU

Apple introduced a significant change to Safari, the App Store and iOS with iOS 17.4, but only for people in Europe. With iOS 17.4, people in the EU can download an alternative app store and apps from outside the App Store. As CNET's Katie Collins reports, 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 have access to other app stores and more now.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple made these changes, announced in January, to comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act.

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 iOS 17.4. 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 used by apps outside that region.

At least 100 new emoji

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

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

Emojipedia

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

Improved iMessage security against future threats

With iOS 17.4, your iMessage chats get a security boost to protect them from cyberattacks that involve quantum computing. According to CNET's David Lumb, Apple said it hasn't seen these kinds of cyberattacks yet, but the company wants to get ahead of the potential threat now. 

Read more: Apple's Next iOS Update Protects iMessage Against Future Quantum Computing Attacks

Podcasts can now show transcripts

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You can now read a transcript of your favorite podcasts with iOS 17.4.

Apple

In iOS 17.4, you can read the transcripts of your favorite podcasts as you listen to them. To see the transcripts, go into the Podcasts app and start listening to a show, then tap the media player across the bottom of your screen. There's a new button in the bottom left corner of your screen 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. 

Read more: What to Know About Podcast Transcripts on iOS 17.4

Virtual card numbers come to Apple Cash

Your Apple Cash gets an upgrade with iOS 17.4, too. Now you can view virtual card numbers for your Apple Cash which lets you shop at online stores that don't accept Apple Pay. This card comes with its own number, expiration date and three-digit security code, like a physical card. You can also easily request a new card number if you think your card has been compromised.

Read more: How to View Your Apple Cash's Virtual Card Numbers

Another digital clock widget

In iOS 17.4, Apple introduced a new digital clock app widget called City Digital. This widget displays the time as well as a set location as opposed to wherever your iPhone is at the moment. This can be helpful if you're traveling or live far from family and friends but want to keep in touch without waking them up in the middle of the night.

Apple introduced the digital clock widget to iPhones with the release of iOS 17.2.

More Stolen Device Protection options

smartphone with a keyhole lock

Stolen Device Protection now lets you always require a security delay, or only when you're away from locations like your home.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple introduced a few new options in Stolen Device Protection with iOS 17.4. The new options let you choose whether you want to always require a 1-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 with the intent 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.

Read more: How to Give Your iPhone's Stolen Device Protection a Boost

New Battery Health readout for iPhone 15 models

With iOS 17.4, iPhone 15 models get a new Battery Health readout. If you go to Settings > Battery, you'll see a new option that tells you the status of your battery's health in a word, like Normal or Service. You can also tap this option for more details about your battery, like its cycle count and maximum capacity. Before, your iPhone would show a percentage correlating to your battery's health without any indication of what it means.

Read more: iOS 17.4's New Tool Shows if Your iPhone 15's Battery Health Is Normal

New Home button in the Music and Books apps

Apple introduced a Home button in Apple Music and the Books app with iOS 17.4. If you open either app and look at the bottom of your screen, the Home button is in the far-left corner. This button replaced Listen Now in Apple Music and Read Now in Books. 

If you're an Apple Music subscriber and tap the button, you're taken to a page that shows you menus, like Recently Played, and recommendations based on artists you've listened to. If you tap this button in the Books app, you see menus like Current Bestsellers and Start Reading for Free.

Previous iOS updates brought Home buttons to the Podcasts and Apple TV apps, so this change is likely Apple trying to apply some uniformity across its apps.

Siri can read messages in multiple languages

In iOS 17.4, Apple gave Siri the ability to read messages in multiple languages. Once enabled, Siri can read messages in languages like Spanish, dialects of Mandarin and Thai. Apple writes that this won't change the primary language Siri listens and responds in. 

Read more: How to Enable Siri to Read Messages in More Languages

New Apple CarPlay and Maps experience in certain vehicles

Apple CarPlay in-car display

Certain Apple CarPlay-supported vehicles will show a new Maps instrument cluster with iOS 17.4.

StackSocial/CNET

With iOS 17.4, if you use Apple CarPlay with Maps in certain supported vehicles, you'll see a new instrument cluster. 

"With supported CarPlay vehicles, Apple Maps will present a new instrument cluster experience with information about upcoming maneuvers," Apple wrote online. "Users will be able to swap the desired display type between the main and instrument cluster screen by tapping the map configuration button on the upper right of the Maps main screen."

Apple didn't say which vehicles support this new feature, and the company didn't respond to a request for comment.

Here are the full release notes for iOS 17.4.

Emoji

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.

Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website:

https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

For more on Apple, you can check out everything the company announced at WWDC 2024 and all the features coming in iOS 18. You can also check out how to download the iOS 18 developer beta and why you might want to wait.

Watch this: Everything Announced at Apple's WWDC 2024