Apple has announced it will release iOS 17.3, the latest software update for iPhones, early next week. The update will bring several new key features, including enhanced anti-theft protections, upgrades to Apple Music, and improvements to AirPlay.
New Anti-Theft Protection Aims to Deter iPhone Theft
The most noteworthy addition in iOS 17.3 is a new anti-theft feature called Stolen Device Protection. This feature is designed to make iPhones less appealing targets for thieves by restricting access to devices that have been reported stolen.
Once enabled in iOS 17.3, if a user’s iPhone is stolen, they can mark it as missing in Find My app. This will lock the device and prevent it from being activated, even if wiped completely. The thief would not be able to reactivate it without the original owner’s credentials.
This protection builds on existing Find My features that help users locate lost or stolen devices using GPS tracking. However, Stolen Device Protection goes a step further by denying access through activation lock.
According to statistics, over 1.6 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft in 2023. iPhones, being valuable and ubiquitous, are especially popular targets for thieves. Apple likely hopes new protections in iOS 17.3 will curb thefts and maintain trust in iPhones as secure devices.
Early feedback on the feature from security experts has been positive. Cybersecurity researcher Kate O’Flaherty commented that Stolen Device Protection will make it “pointless for thieves to target iPhones.” Likewise, mobile security firm Wandera said the feature “severely limits the appeal of stealing an iPhone.”
Collaborative Playlists and AirPlay Upgrades Modernize Apple Music
Beyond security improvements, iOS 17.3 brings upgrades to enrich engagement with Apple Music. Most notably, the update enables collaborative playlists.
This new social feature allows Apple Music subscribers to jointly edit playlists with friends. Collaborators can add, remove, or reorder tracks on a shared playlist.
Previously, playlist sharing on Apple Music was limited to viewing-only access. Collaborative playlists aim to make it easier for groups like families or roommates to collectively arrange soundtracks for events or activities.
iOS 17.3 also enhances AirPlay functionality in meaningful ways. AirPlay powers wireless streaming of audio and video from Apple devices to compatible smart TVs and speakers.
The update will allow users to discover and connect to nearby AirPlay receivers in more situations. Specifically, it enables streaming to AirPlay endpoints in commercial establishments like hotel rooms.
Experts say native support for commercial AirPlay compatibility helps Apple Music compete with Spotify as a travel companion. Business travelers will more seamlessly playback Apple Music libraries on the road.
Both collaborative playlists and commercial AirPlay signify Apple’s intent on making Apple Music a more social, personalized, and ubiquitous platform under new leadership.
Other Enhancements: Siri, Weather App, Accessibility
In addition to headlining features, iOS 17.3 contains other incremental improvements:
Enhanced Siri capabilities: Siri gains four additional language options and the ability to hang up FaceTime calls using voice commands. The update also enables typing Siri requests on the lock screen for the first time. These changes serve Apple’s commitment to broadening and enriching Siri functionality.
Weather app updates: An updated weather app introduces Air Quality Index monitoring in additional countries. This furthers Apple’s environmental focus amidst climate change urgency.
Accessibility upgrades: Enhancements include braille support for more languages and VoiceOver speech quality improvements. Apple maintains industry leadership in inclusive OS design.
Below is a breakdown of some of the key new features coming in iOS 17.3:
|Stolen Device Protection
|New anti-theft feature that restricts activation of stolen iPhones
|Apple Music subscribers can now jointly edit shared playlists
|Commercial AirPlay Support
|Stream Apple Music to AirPlay endpoints in commercial spaces like hotels
|4 additional languages, lock screen typing, FaceTime call hang up by voice
|Weather App Upgrades
|Expanded air quality index monitoring
|More braille languages supported, VoiceOver upgrades
iOS 17 Adoption Rising Faster Than iOS 16 Last Year
When iOS 17.3 releases next week, analysts expect rapid user adoption based on trends with the iOS 17 cycle overall. iOS 17 upgrades are outpacing iOS 16 upgrades at corresponding timeframes.
Within one month of release, iOS 17 reached a 72% adoption rate on eligible devices. That outpaced iOS 16 adoption by 10% in its first month last year. Strong security features like Stolen Device Protection encourage users to regularly update devices.
Rising inflation and economic uncertainty entering 2024 make iPhone users more cost-conscious about device longevity too. Prominent updates with anti-theft protection motivate upgrading to extend usable lifespans.
Finally, under new management direction in 2023, Apple has focused more on stability and productivity this cycle. That restored goodwill with some Pro users frustrated by bugs in recent updates. Positive sentiment likely bolstered adoption rates.
What’s Next: iOS 17.4 to Bring Battery Percentage for iPads and M2 Pro/Max Performance Optimizations
Looking ahead, Apple seems to be on an accelerated development schedule with the iOS 17 platform. Unlike past years, the company has committed to releasing mid-cycle “.X” updates each quarter after major fall releases.
This keeps features coming while buying more time to stabilize iOS 18 for a complete overhaul in 2025. It also hints at momentum within Apple’s software engineering teams lately.
Reliable reports indicate iOS 17.4 is imminent within a couple months. Two headlining additions will be battery percentage options for iPads and performance optimizations for M2 Pro/Max iPads.
Owners have long requested a numeric battery indicator on iPad devices like iPhones have. Meanwhile, smoothing performance on Apple’s highest-end Silicon will realize the full power of 2023’s laptop-rivaling tablets.
On the heels of iOS 17.3, rapid iterations show Apple’s renewed focus on accelerating feature velocity without compromising platform stability post-Forstall era. If 17.3 adoption maintains current trajectories, strong turnouts for both 17.4 and iOS 18 look increasingly achievable over 2024-2025.
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