iOS 17.4 beta 1: Here's everything that's new in Apple's App Store-busting, CarPlay-teasing update

iOS 17 running on an iPhone
(Image credit: Apple (Edited))

Apple's iOS 17.4 is going to be a huge release in a number of ways, and it's already available in initial beta form for those who want to live life on the wild side. But the final version should be with us in a few weeks, and there are plenty of changes for iPhone owners to look forward to.

Some of those changes are cosmetic, with new emoji being added to the mix. But some of the changes are truly groundbreaking — like Apple adding support for third-party app stores, allowing streaming apps like Xbox Cloud into its own App Store, and more. The number of changes isn't necessarily huge, but some of them will have an outsized impact on the way people use their iPhones from the moment iOS 17.4 arrives.

When that will happen, we don't yet know for certain. But we do know that Apple has an EU-imposed deadline that it will have to meet. The App Store changes need to be in play by March 6 which is when the EU's DMA requires that Apple allow those in the region to install apps from sources other than the App Store. That means that Apple now has a few weeks to get iOS 17.4 in order and any bugs polished out. Here's what to expect once the iOS 17.4 update lands based on what we know from beta 1.

All change in the App Store

The App Store changes are undoubtedly huge because Apple will have to allow iPhone owners to install third-party app stores for the first time. That means that the likes of Epic Games can launch their own store on iOS, which in turn means that Fortnite is coming back to the iPhone — so long as you live in the EU, of course. Apps in the EU will also be able to offer payment options that aren't the App Store's in-app purchase system, too. Another EU-only change is support for third-party web browsers that don't use Apple's Webkit engine, a first for the platform.

Continuing the EU news, third-party wallet apps will be able to use the iPhone's NFC chip for contactless payments, adding competition to Apple Pay.

That doesn't mean that the rest of the world won't have changes to look forward to. Apple is going to start to allow game streaming apps into the App Store for the first time, removing their reliance on web apps.

New emoji

emoji keyboard on iPhone

(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Apple's iOS 17.4 update will bring with it a number of new emoji including a phoenix, a broken chain, a mushroom, and more. These emoji are part of the Unicode 15.1 update that was first approved towards the end of 2023.

Podcasts and Music changes

Apple Podcasts transcription

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

In the Apple Music app users will notice that the Listen Now tab has changed to Home, while Apple Podcasts fans will notice that the app now offers transcripts of the podcast that they are listening to. It's similar to lyrics in Apple Music and is enabled for all podcasts by default, although podcasters will be able to opt-out.

Everything else

Other changes include a tweak to the Stolen Device Protection feature that adds an option to require a security delay when making changes to security settings either always, or only when away from familiar locations.

Siri has also gained a new setting that allows Messages to read incoming messages in a specific language no matter which one they were received in.

Finally, the iOS 17.4 has references that suggest Apple's next-gen CarPlay feature is readying release, although it isn't yet available in this beta.

All of these features and changes are in the iOS 17.4 beta 1 release but could change or be removed before the final version. We may also see new additions before the big release, too.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.