5 reasons iPhone users should update to iOS 17.4 today

Apple just gave every iPhone a serious update with iOS 17.4 – these are the features that you’ll want to try

iOS 17.4
(Image credit: Future)

We might be six months into the current iPhone lineup, but iOS 17 just got a significant upgrade. The latest OS 17.4 update brings, not only bug fixes and security updates, but a host of useful new features that make every iPhone (from 2018 onwards) even better. 

I’ve been using the public Beta of 17.4 for some weeks now and while much of the update focuses on the new rules for Europe, there are some that add to the useability of the iPhone for all and prepare it for some really clever things in the future. 

You can update your iPhone to the latest version of iOS 17 (17.4) by going to Settings>General>Software Update. If you have automatic updates selected, your phone should update overnight the next time it’s plugged in or placed on a wireless charger. It’s not just the latest iPhone 15 models that get the update either. A total of 24 models are compatible with the iOS 17 update from the iPhone Xs onwards. 

iOS 17.4

(Image credit: Future)

1. Secure Messaging

For added security in messaging, PQ3 protects against hacks that harvest encrypted data with the aim of using quantum computing to decode it later. This post-quantum cryptographic protocol is one step beyond simply end-to-end encryption, which has been a selling point for iMessage for some time, and means that whatever you type is safer than ever. 

Xbox Cloud Gaming

(Image credit: Xbox)

2. Cloud gaming

Gaming on the iPhone takes a massive leap forward with iOS 17.4 as it finally allows the iPhone to provide streaming game apps. Previously streaming games could only be accessed via a a web browser, but this change opens the door for developers to stream gameplay direct from their servers to apps. It’s great news for services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now. 


(Image credit: Future)

3. Emojis

Emojis have become an important part of our written communication, especially in text messages, so adding a few more options to the list is never a bad thing. In iOS 17.4 there are new faces for nodding and shaking your head, which I have already made use of. 

There’s also a mushroom, flaming phoenix, broken chain and lime… which I haven’t, but if I ever plan on having tequila shots at the Golden Phoenix for someone’s breakup, I can probably use at least three. There are also new side profiles of people standing, walking, kneeling, walking with a cane and in a wheelchair, plus non-gender-specific family icons. 

Mockup of the future of CarPlay

(Image credit: Apple)

4. Next gen Car play support 

This is where iOS 17.4 gets interesting. The update opens up the capabilities for the next generation Apple CarPlay, supporting more integrated vehicle dynamics and instrument cluster display. On compatible cars, this means that you will be able to display maps on the instrument cluster and also adds a range of new apps to the system. These include the rear camera feed, tyre pressure, charging, climate controls, door opening warnings and radio station control. 

5. Stolen device protection

The stolen device protection was something that was introduced in iOS 17.3, which adds an extra layer of security in the form of biometrics when someone tries to perform certain tasks on your phone. The original version does this when the phone is located away from your usual locations (home, office etc). In iOS 17.4  though you can select to have this active in all locations. 

Other features

There are far more new features than just those above in the new iOS 17.4. For instance, users will now get the stopwatch function to appear as a live activity, the caller ID has been improved to recognise more Apple-verified businesses, there’s a new digital city clock widget for showing other time zones, and you can get transcripts in podcasts in case you want to read what you’re hearing (kind of like... an article). 

For the Europeans… 

The big feature in iOS 17.4 is arguably the changes for those inside the European Union, which won’t be seen on UK or US devices. As required by EU law, this now allows for alternative app stores, alternative payment options, new third-party browser options, the use of the NFC chip and the ability to add web apps. It’s unlikely that these functions will be available in other markets any time soon. 

Mat Gallagher

As T3's Editor-in-Chief, Mat Gallagher has his finger on the pulse for the latest advances in technology. He has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing, Hong Kong and Chicago is now based in the UK. He’s a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, Apple, electric cars, musical instruments or travel.