Apple has released the first beta version of iOS 17.3, the next major update to the iPhone’s operating system. The update includes several notable new features, particularly focused on security and anti-theft protections.
iOS 17, released in September 2023, brought substantial changes like a refreshed lock screen with widgets and customizations. It also continued Apple’s focus on user privacy protections.
iOS 17.3 beta, made available to developers on December 15th, is the next significant point update. It builds on iOS 17 with additional security capabilities and iPhone customization options.
Key New Features
Enhanced Anti-Theft Protection
The headline feature in iOS 17.3 is called Stolen Device Protection. When enabled, it locks the iPhone and makes it unusable if it is ever reported lost or stolen.
As described by Apple, “When you mark your device as lost and put it into Lost Mode, Stolen Device Protection ensures it stays in Lost Mode and cannot be reactivated or reset without your permission.”
Once in Lost Mode, the iPhone displays a message that it is locked and disabled. The device becomes functionally useless to potential thieves.
Stolen Device Protection leverages the iPhone’s activation lock system introduced years ago. It takes the anti-theft capability a major step further by preventing reactivation if the iPhone is ever wiped.
Enhanced Activation Lock
Activation Lock prevents reactivation of a lost or stolen iPhone without the owner’s Apple ID credentials. iOS 17.3 enhances Activation Lock as an additional layer of protection.
If a lost iPhone is ever erased, Activation Lock in iOS 17.3 blocks it from being set up again. This protection remains even if the device is restored using specialized equipment.
Between Stolen Device Protection and the enhanced Activation Lock system, a lost or stolen iPhone updated to iOS 17.3 becomes impossible to reuse without the original owner disabling these features.
New Apple Music Sing Feature
Alongside the security enhancements, iOS 17.3 introduces a new Apple Music Sing feature.
Apple Music subscribers will be able to sing along to songs with adjustable vocals and real-time lyrics. It provides a karaoke-style experience designed for iPhone users.
Beyond those major additions, the first iOS 17.3 beta reportedly includes smaller changes like:
- Updates to the Emergency SOS via satellite feature introduced in iOS 16 for contacting emergency services in remote areas
- Bug fixes and performance improvements to the operating system
As the beta testing period continues over the next weeks, additional new capabilities may surface. Apple will invite public beta testers to preview iOS 17.3 and provide feedback in January 2024.
What This Means for iPhone Users
For iPhone owners, iOS 17.3 promises substantial security upgrades to safeguard devices from theft. Between Stolen Device Protection and Activation Lock, Apple aims to render stolen iPhones inoperable.
Users concerned about iPhone theft can enable these protections when iOS 17.3 becomes publicly available. It provides peace of mind that a lost or stolen device cannot easily fall into the wrong hands.
All iPhone models going back to the iPhone 8 series released in 2017 will support the anti-theft protections in iOS 17.3. So the vast majority of active iPhones stand to benefit.
iOS 17 Adoption So Far
Before iOS 17.3 arrives, most iPhone users are still transitioning to iOS 17. As tracked by Apple:
|Earlier iOS Versions
While iOS 17 adoption has been rapid, over a quarter of active iPhones still run iOS 16 or older as of December 2023.
The upcoming enhancements in iOS 17.3 provide extra incentive for lagging users to update to iOS 17. Doing so ensures their devices can also upgrade to iOS 17.3 when it becomes publicly available.
Apple’s software release cycles generally follow a predictable timeline:
- Apple makes the first developer beta of major iOS updates available in December
- Public beta testing begins in January
- The official public launch happens in March
If iOS 17.3 follows that pattern, it would suggest:
- December 2023 – Developer beta testing
- January 2024 – Public beta testing
- March 2024 – iOS 17.3 full public release
The initial beta provides developers time to adapt their apps. Then Apple utilizes public testers to identify any remaining issues.
Barring unforeseen bugs that emerge during the beta period, March 2024 marks the likely date when iOS 17.3 hits iPhones universally.
What’s Next from Apple
Looking beyond iOS 17.3, Apple’s software updates through 2024 and into 2025 seem poised to prioritize security and privacy.
Long-rumored efforts around passwordless authentication via Face ID and further privacy transparency features will likely emerge later in 2024. More substantial changes could come:
- In iOS 18 in September 2024
- With the long-awaited AR/VR headset expected to debut in 2025.
For now, iOS 17.3 represents a vital stepping stone. It brings groundbreaking anti-theft protections before even more hardware and software innovations on Apple’s roadmap.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.