Here's what's new in iOS 17.4: Alternate app store support for EU, CarPlay tweaks, and new emojis on the way

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Expected to launch in just a week or so, iOS 17.4 has inadvertently become one of the biggest OS updates in some time, and the latest release candidate shows why. 

Available to developers and testers, the iOS 17.4 release candidate has just launched and comes with support for alternate app stores — something that has been begrudgingly in the works at Apple for a long time. This is thanks to the Digital Markets Act that is being enforced in March and only applies to EU storefronts. This will affect both huge entities like Epic Games, which has been embroiled in a long lawsuit with the company, and smaller developers who want to test out new stores without Apple’s watchful eye over them. Back in January, Epic Games announced Fortnite would be coming back to iPhone with some caveats and, just last week, Epic Games’ developer account was reinstated

Alternate app store support isn’t the only big change coming with iOS 17.4. In Apple’s support documentation, it said: “With supported CarPlay vehicles, Apple Maps will present a new instrument cluster experience with information about upcoming maneuvers. Users will be able to swap the desired display type between the main and instrument cluster screen”. This means you can alternate between different views on the fly, depending on how heavy the traffic is and what type of trip you are taking. 

What else is new?

As well as a whole host of fixes for HomeKit, Maps, Messages, and more, brand new emojis are also coming to iOS 17.4, though these emojis were all revealed last month. Finishing off the list, iPhone 15 models, the best iPhones right now, get a new battery health readout, Apple Podcasts receive transcript support allowing you to read along with your favorite shows, and Stolen Device Protection allows you to turn on security delay whenever you like now. Security Delay is a function that means a user has to use Face ID on their iPhone multiple times over a span of hours or minutes before getting in, so allowing you to use this at any moment can make your iPhone more secure. 

Apple only puts out release candidates when a piece of software is almost ready for launch to the general public. As such the iOS 17.4 release candidate suggests we could be as little as a week away from the full software release. Assuming all goes well and developers don’t run into major issues, we could have all the above new functions very soon. 

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James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.