Apple has dropped the first betas of iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4. For EU residents, this update is more than just a routine enhancement – it’s a monumental leap. Apple initiated beta-testing on January 25, aiming to implement substantial alterations that align with the requirements of the Digital Markets Act. The deadline set for this compliance is March 6, a date we anticipate will coincide with the public release of iOS 17.4.
A glance at what’s new in iOS 17.4 reveals a tech metamorphosis. With 600 new APIs, expanded app analytics, support for alternative browser engines, and access to NFC for mobile payment systems, iOS 17.4 is poised to redefine user experiences.
Notably, Apple is introducing options for processing app payments and distributing iOS apps outside the traditional App Store ecosystem.
As we embark on the beta-testing journey and explore iOS 17.4 changes, users in the EU can anticipate a digital landscape tailored to meet the demands of modern legislation and user expectations.
EU-Centric App Store Overhaul
In a monumental shift, Apple iOS 17.4 EU changes initiate a comprehensive overhaul of its App Store. The introduction of alternative app stores and revamped payment structures signals a strategic response to comply with the Digital Markets Act.
Alternative App Stores: EU app developers are no longer bound by the traditional App Store. Apple has given the green light for the creation of alternative app stores, introducing a revamped fee structure to accommodate this groundbreaking shift. Developers can now explore new avenues, adhering to specific criteria laid out by Apple.
Third-Party App Store EU Terms: Developers embracing this new system face a standard fee of 0.50 euros per user per year, with the first million installs offered free of charge. Apps distributed through alternative app stores incur no commission, providing a lucrative avenue for developers. For those opting to stay within the App Store, commissions are reduced to 17 percent, or a mere 10 percent for small business program participants, or for user subscriptions surpassing a year.
Choice and Control: Developers hold the reins in this new era of iOS 17.4 changes, choosing whether to opt into the new system or stick to the existing commission model. Apple equips developers with a fee calculator, simplifying the process of determining costs across various scenarios.
Alternative Payment Options: The liberation continues with apps now granted the freedom to incorporate alternative payment options, breaking away from the prior constraints of in-app purchases. This iOS 17.4 change opens the door for seamless transactions directly within apps or redirecting users to external websites for purchases.
App Store Security Boost: Security takes center stage as apps distributed through alternative app stores in EU countries undergo a notarization process akin to Mac apps. This ensures a heightened level of security and integrity, aligning with Apple’s commitment to user safety.
Integration of Features: While alternative app stores offer newfound freedom, some features like Screen Time, refunds, and in-app purchases won’t fully integrate as per the iOS 17.4 changes. This aligns these apps with standard App Store practices, striking a balance between freedom and functionality.
Parental Controls Enhanced: Parents gain an extra layer of control with the introduction of a Screen Time setting as per the iOS 17.4 changes. Tailor your child’s device experience by deciding whether they can install apps from alternative app marketplaces, providing a nuanced approach to parental controls.
System Messaging Overhaul: Delve into the intricacies of the behind-the-scenes transformations. From enhanced system messaging to real-time warnings about potential malware in alternative app stores, Apple ensures a secure and informed environment for users in the EU.
Gaming App Changes: iPhone and iPadOS 17.4 changes include streaming game apps allowed on the App Store. Services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce NOW can now be offered as standalone iPhone and iPad apps, marking a departure from the previous web-only accessibility. Mini-apps, mini-games, chatbots, and plug-ins are also granted access to the in-app purchase system.
Epic Games Store on iOS: Epic Games signals a return to iOS with its Epic Games Store, a result of Apple’s new alternative app store policy in the EU. Thanks to this iOS 17.4 change, iPhone and iPad users can finally indulge in the popular game Fortnite without the need for a cloud gaming service. This marks the end of a multi-year ban since the legal tussle between Apple and Epic Games began.
NFC Payments, Protection, and Browser Liberty
iOS introduces a trio of pivotal features: NFC Payments, Stolen Device Protection, and Browser Liberty. Together, these features redefine user experience, emphasizing flexibility, security, and personalization.
NFC Access Widened: iOS 17.4 changes unlock the potential for third-party payment services and banks to provide NFC payments directly within their apps. Users in the EU can set a default contactless payment provider, activating it at tap-to-pay terminals or with a double press of the Side button. This allows users to change the default Wallet app on their iPhone.
Third-Party Browser Updates: Apple iOS 17.4 EU changes allow users unprecedented liberty as they can now select a default browser from a curated list, breaking away from the limitations of the WebKit engine. This newfound freedom empowers users to tailor their browsing experience by choosing popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Brave, and Microsoft Edge.
Developer Features: Apple is fostering collaboration by allowing developers of iOS apps in the EU to request additional interoperability with iPhone hardware and software features. This move reflects Apple’s commitment to a case-by-case evaluation, ensuring a balance between innovation and user experience.
More Analytics for Developers: As part of the EU-specific App Store iOS 17.4 change, Apple is democratizing data with over 50 new reports available worldwide through the App Store Connect API. This influx of analytics promises developers enhanced tools for app performance analysis.
Device Safety Boost: A critical change in iOS 17.4 comes in the form of enhanced Stolen Device Protection. In the Settings app, users can now opt to require a security delay either always or only when away from familiar locations, bolstering device security.
Enhanced Messaging and Media Experience
In a bid to elevate user interactions, Apple introduces nuanced updates to messaging and media features. These enhancements collectively redefine how users engage with their devices, emphasizing personalization and accessibility.
Siri and Language Preferences: Under Siri & Search, the “Automatically Send Messages” setting is the biggest iOS 17.4 change, now named “Messaging with Siri.” Users in the EU can set Siri to read incoming messages in specific languages, enhancing the personalization of the messaging experience.
Media App Renaming and Transcripts: Apple Music and Podcasts have made changes in iOS 17.4 and rebranded their “Listen Now” tabs to “Home.” Additionally, the Podcasts app now supports transcripts, paralleling the functionality in Apple Music for lyrics.
Fresh Emoji Additions: Adding a touch of fun, iOS 17.4 introduces a slew of new emoji characters, including lime, an edible brown mushroom, a phoenix, a broken chain, and expressive head shakes. These additions are part of the Unicode 15.1 update, approved in September 2023, providing users with an expanded and vibrant emoji palette.
Safari Enhancements: In Safari, users will notice a wider URL/search bar, providing a more spacious and user-friendly browsing experience.
Apple’s Strategic Insights and Broader Implications
In a supporting document, Apple rationalizes these changes in iOS 17.4 as exclusive to the EU due to concerns surrounding fraud, scams, and privacy threats. However, the ramifications extend beyond the EU borders.
As iOS 17.4 changes take center stage, Apple has set the wheels in motion for a new app ecosystem, redefining the user experience for iOS users in the EU and beyond. To sum it up, iOS 17.4 Beta brings tweaks that may seem subtle, but collectively, they enhance your daily iPhone interactions. Stay tuned for the full-scale release of Apple iOS 17.4 EU changes, promising a revolution in the palm of your hand.