iOS 17.4: New emojis, battery health updates and for the EU, third party app stores

Apple has announced the arrival of iOS 17.4, the latest major update to their current mobile operating system. This new update brings with it a number of new features such as new emojis, additional features for Battery Health, changes to Siri and transcripts in Apple Podcasts.

The biggest change though in iOS 17.4 is perhaps the one that Malaysian iPhone users won’t be able to experience: support for third party app stores and alternative browser engines. These will only be available to those in the European Union as part of Apple’s move to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act, the region’s ruling that wants to remove certain advantages some tech companies have over others. As a result, iPhone users in the EU will see substantially longer update notes compared to everyone else around the world when they update to iOS 17.4.

For iOS 17.4 in the EU, Apple will now allow developers to introduce their own alternative, third party app stores to effectively bypass the iOS App Store and ‘sideload’ apps onto the iPhone. Those who wish to introduce their own third party app marketplace will however have to pay Apple a ‘Core Technology Fee’ of EUR0.50 per app install after the first million downloads annually. This has already seen the likes of fierce rival Epic announce previously that they’ll be bringing the Epic Games Store to iOS in Europe this year.

Thanks to the Digital Markets Act, iOS 17.4 will also now let users in the EU download alternative web browsers powered by engines that aren’t based on the Apple WebKit; Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox for iOS for instance currently have to use WebKit due to Apple’s requirements. Apple will also be bringing in new APIs that will finally let third party developers use the iPhone NFC payment chip for contactless payment services that aren’t Apple Pay and Apple Wallet in the EU.

As for what changes in iOS 17.4 we’ll actually be able to enjoy, these include a bunch of new emojis such as mushrooms, a phoenix, broken chains, shaking heads and broken chains. Messages will also be able to peel, resize and stick any emoji into the conversation both as a response and as a react. You can also add emoji stickers to your photo when editing them.

In Apple Podcasts meanwhile, users will now be able to get transcripts for shows in English, French, Spanish and German, offering full text display for each episode and also the ability to look for certain words and phrases and then continue from there. Another music-related update for iOS 17.4 is that you can now add songs you’ve identified using the music recognition feature directly to your Apple Music playlists and library as well as Apple Music Classical.

Lastly, for iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro users, the next time you head over to the Battery Health section in Settings, you’ll not only see the maximum capacity anymore but also the battery cycle count, manufacture fate and date of first use once you’ve updated to iOS 17.4.

iOS 17.4 will be available for the iPhone Xs and newer. To get the update, simply head over to your iPhone’s Settings app, then select General followed by Software Update. Once it checks for an update, you’ll be greeted by the option to either update to iOS 17.4 now or tonight when your device is locked and has sufficient charge.