Apple’s iOS 17.4 Unveiled: A Game-Changer for iPhone Security and Functionality

Chris Thompson

By Chris Thompson


The release of Apple’s iOS 17.4 heralds a transformative era for iPhone users, especially those based in the European Union. This update is not just a step forward; it’s a leap into a future where flexibility and security coexist in a more balanced ecosystem.

Major Advancements in Stolen Device Protection

At the forefront of iOS 17.4’s array of new features is the significantly enhanced Stolen Device Protection. Initially rolled out in iOS 17.3, this feature was a commendable effort in curbing the consequences of device theft.

It required users to authenticate via Face ID or Touch ID to access apps or disable Lost Mode, ensuring that a stolen device remains locked down. In its latest iteration, iOS 17.4 takes this security measure up a notch by allowing users to apply these biometric authentications for altering critical settings such as Apple ID, regardless of their location.

EU Users Can Now Sideload Apps

Perhaps the most consequential change in iOS 17.4, especially for EU users, is the introduction of app sideloading. In a historic shift to comply with the EU Digital Markets Act (DMA), Apple has opened its previously tightly-sealed doors to allow sideloading on iPhones for the first time.

This move, though met with resistance from Apple due to concerns over potential security implications, aligns with the EU’s broader regulatory framework aimed at fostering a more competitive and open digital market.

Security experts have weighed in, highlighting the risks that come with this newfound openness. Many have pointed to the dangers posed by exposing the iOS ecosystem, which had been relatively insulated from external threats thanks to Apple’s stringent app vetting processes.

The burden of security vigilance now partly shifts to the users, who must exercise discernment when downloading apps from non-Apple sources.

Emergency Security Patches

Apart from these major updates, iOS 17.4 also introduces two emergency security patches to address vulnerabilities already being exploited in attacks, emphasizing Apple’s ongoing commitment to user security.

Additionally, the update includes a range of other features, such as an update to iMessage security, support for Apple Podcasts transcripts, and a reversal of the decision to drop support for home screen web apps – a change that will be particularly welcomed by many EU users.

Wrapping Up

The arrival of iOS 17.4 is more than just a routine software update; it’s a significant juncture in the evolution of iPhone security and user autonomy. With these changes, Apple not only enhances device security but also navigates the complex waters of regulatory compliance and user choice.

iOS 17.4 is available for download now. Here’s how to update:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Software Update
  4. Tap Update Now

Fig 1. Updating to iOS 17.4 on iPhone.