Apple launched iOS 17.4 beta 2 for public beta testers on Wednesday, a day after the company launched the beta for developers and about two weeks after the release of iOS 17.3. The latest iOS beta brings new features, including big changes for people in the European Union and new emojis, as well as bug fixes for some developers and beta testers' iPhones.
See more information: Why you should download iOS 17.3 now
We recommend only downloading a beta on something other than your primary device. Since this is not the final version of iOS 17.4, these features may be buggy and battery life may be short, and these issues are best kept on a secondary device.
If you're a developer or public beta tester, here are some of the new features you can find in iOS 17.4 beta 2. Note that the beta is not the final version of iOS 17.4, so these may not be the only new features to come. land on your iPhone when iOS 17.4 is released. There's no word on the public release of iOS 17.4 yet, but Litter indicated that it will probably be in March.
Downloading other app stores in the EU
Apple introduced a significant change to Safari, the App Store and iOS with iOS 17.4 beta 1, but only for people in the EU. With iOS 17.4 beta 1, people in the EU can download an alternative app store and apps from outside the App Store. According to CNET's Katie Collins, this marks one of the biggest changes to the App Store since its inception in 2008. People in the EU will also receive new default app controls, providing more ways to personalize their iPhone experience.
Apple made these changes, which were announced on Thursday, to comply with the EU Digital Markets Act. The company said these changes will take effect once Europeans download iOS 17.4 in March or later. There is no information on whether these changes will be available globally.
See more information: Apple will allow rival app stores to be installed on iPhones in Europe
More options for in-app payments
Apple introduced more ways to make in-app payments with the first iOS 17.4 beta. If you go to Settings > Privacy and securityyou will see an option called Contactless and NFCor near-field communication. If you tap the new option, you'll be taken to a mostly blank page with a small warning 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 of that region.
Regional identifier is no longer available
In the first beta of iOS 17.4, there was a regional identifier called Identifiable_Region. You can see this by going to Settings > General > About and scrolling to the bottom of the page. However, with iOS 17.4 beta 2, this regional identifier has been removed. It's unclear why, but since the setting had a broken link and a strange naming convention – it had an underscore and capital letters – it's possible this was never intended to be viewed in the first place.
At least 100 new emojis
Apple introduced more than 100 new emojis to iPhone users with the first beta version of iOS 17.4. These emoji include heads bobbing up and down as well as left and right, a phoenix emoji, and a lemon slice. These emojis were announced in 2023 and some Android devices, including the latest Samsung phones, already have them.
More options for protecting stolen devices
With iOS 17.4 beta 1, Apple introduced some new options in protecting stolen devices. New options let you choose whether you want to always require a one-hour security delay to access certain settings or make changes, or only require the delay when you're away from a familiar location, like your home.
Apple introduced stolen device protection with iOS 17.3, and the feature is intended to protect some of your data in case your device is stolen or falls into nefarious hands. The feature doesn't protect all of your data, but Apple still recommends that everyone turn it on.
Podcasts can now show transcripts
In the first iOS 17.4 beta, you can read transcripts of your favorite podcasts as you listen to them. To view transcripts, go to Podcasts and start listening to a show, tap the show banner at the bottom of the screen. Then look at the bottom of the show's title card and you'll see a new button in the bottom left corner that looks like a speech bubble with quotation marks inside it. Tap this button and you will see the transcript of the program you are listening to. You can also search the transcript, so if someone mentions the title of a book or movie and you only remember part of it, you can search for the part you know and find the full title.
Virtual card numbers come to Apple Cash
Your Apple Cash also gets an update with the latest iOS 17.4 beta. Now you can have a virtual card that can access your Apple Cash. This card comes with its own number, expiration date and three-digit security code, just like a physical card. You can also easily request a new card number if you think your card has been compromised.
This feature is useful if you want to use your Apple Cash at an online store that doesn't accept Apple Pay.
Another digital clock widget
In the second iOS 17.4 beta, Apple introduced a new digital clock app widget called City Digital. This widget displays the time and a set location, rather than where your iPhone is currently. This can be useful if you're traveling or live far from family and friends but want to stay in touch without waking them up in the middle of the night.
Apple introduced the digital clock widget for iPhones with the release of iOS 17.2.
New Home button in Music and Books apps
Apple introduced a Home button in Apple Music with iOS 17.4 beta 1 and the Books app with iOS 17.4 beta 2. If you open either app and look at the bottom of the screen, the Home button will be in the left corner. This button has replaced Listen Now in Apple Music and Read Now in Books.
If you're an Apple Music subscriber and tap the button, you'll be taken to a page that shows menus like Recently Played and recommendations based on artists you've listened to. If you tap this button in the Books app, you'll see menus like Current Best Sellers and Start Reading for Free.
Previous iOS updates have 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 send messages in more than one language
With the first iOS 17.4 beta, Apple gave Siri the ability to send messages in multiple languages. If you go to Settings > Siri & Search, you will see the option Messages with Siriwhich replaced Send messages automatically. Touch Messaging with Siri and you will see Add language. If you tap this, you can have Siri send messages in other languages, such as Arabic, Spanish, and Thai. Apple writes that Siri will also read messages using languages from this list, but choosing one from this list will not change the primary language in which Siri listens and responds. Before this, Siri could only send messages in English.
Timer in live activities
With iOS 17.4 beta 1, the Clock app's stopwatch function can now be displayed at the top of the screen on iPhones with live activity, such as iPhone 14 Pro or the iPhone 15. Previously, when you used the timer, you had to stay in the app to keep an eye on the timer. With this beta, you can start the timer, go to your home screen or another app, and the timer will appear at the top of the screen.
These are some of the new features developers and beta testers will see in the second iOS 17.4 beta. This doesn't mean that these are the only features coming in the next iOS update, or that these changes will remain when iOS 17.4 is released to the public. There is currently no exact release date for iOS 17.4, but Apple has indicated that it could be released in March.
To learn more about iOS 17, check out what's included in iOS 17.3 and iOS 17.2. You can also check out our iOS 17 cheat sheet.