The Exact Timing of Apple’s Game-Changing iPhone Transformation

When Apple releases its following significant iPhone update—iOS 17.4—it will be the most loaded and expansive mid-cycle release to date. More insights are surfacing about the upcoming features, with a greater amount of features packed in than initially anticipated. Here are the most recent details, and precisely when you can access it—the anticipated release date is at the conclusion.

February 26 update below. This post was first published on February 24, 2024.

The EU Modifications

If you’re residing in the European Union, the Digital Markets Act is on the brink of being implemented, and to adhere to the required adjustments, Apple will introduce alternate app marketplaces. You’ll no longer be constrained to purchasing apps exclusively from the App Store. Similarly, there will be improved access to varied web browsers besides Safari—you can opt for other browsers already, but there will be support for different browser engines and when you update, you’ll notice a prompt asking you to make a selection. Additionally, there will be support for different payment methods, the ability to set default NFC and wallet apps in Apple Pay and more.

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These modifications are far-reaching and will transform the iPhone indefinitely. Currently, they will solely be applicable in the EU, but it’s a safe bet that British and American, and other governments will be observing, and determining whether they should enforce this unfolding in other regions.

Home Screen Web Applications

Additionally, due to the DMA, support for home screen web applications will be eliminated in the EU, owing to security and compatibility concerns with other browser engines.

Quantum Computing For iMessage

The degree of security for your messages is set to soar, thanks to something labeled PQ3, which Apple terms as, “a revolutionary post-quantum cryptographic protocol that progresses the state of the art of end-to-end secure messaging.” You can peruse complete details of what it involves, here. Suffice it to say it’s a significant development and will safeguard your messaging against hacking that isn’t even feasible at present.

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New Emoji

I constantly relish it when Apple unveils new emoji and notwithstanding there not being a plethora, they’re greatly welcomed. The standout is the phoenix, with its wings tinged with flames. There are also two smiley faces, one shaking their head, the other nodding. There’s a mushroom that appears almost authentic, a lime that’s similarly photo-realistic (so zesty, it prompts you to lick your lips in anticipation), and a chain that’s splitting in two. Perfect for everything from instances of freedom to commemorations of, I don’t know, divorce perhaps?

Stolen Device Protection

This is among the finest new features Apple has ever introduced and is on the verge of being enhanced. It was introduced in iOS 17.3—full details here—and functions to restrict what can be altered in specific locations, to safeguard the phone. However, if you desire to have these restrictions in place universally, well, with iOS 17.4, you can.

And There’s More

The Battery menu is revamped to facilitate observing its lifespan, and Apple had unexpected news for all iPhone 15 owners about this.

There will be a novel, full-color welcome screen with your profile picture upon upgrading, as if to express, “Seriously, this is a crucial update!”

Apple Podcasts is integrating support for transcripts, which is promising.

Siri will have the ability to read messages in numerous languages beyond one.

There’s an enhancement to CarPlay for select cars (which has been assured for a substantial time).

German users are now able to utter “Siri,” instead of “Hey, Siri,” although truth be told, I still habitually say the hey. It’s more amiable, somehow.

Release Date

So, when can you experience this plethora of wealth? Exactly when? 10 a.m. Pacific time. Oh, wait, you desire the date as well? Very well.

The reason why I highlighted the EU modifications at the outset, although they won’t apply to all readers, is that it’s the DMA defining the release date. That law becomes effective on Wednesday, March 6. Therefore, it’s either going to be then or earlier, definitely.

Considering that 10 a.m. Pacific equates to 7 p.m. Central European Time, I’m of the view that it can’t be Wednesday, March 6. I envision Apple will put into effect the EU changes at the eleventh hour, meaning: Tuesday, March 5. Tuesday is Apple’s favored release day. Nonetheless, I still believe Apple will probably execute things in a systematic manner and launch it on its second-preferred day of the week: Monday.

Things may change, but I recommend being prepared to download this incredible update from 10 a.m. Pacific time on Monday, March 4.

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February 25 update. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has just offered insights into the efficiency of iOS 17.4, owing to the imminent iMessage update. In his recent Power On newsletter, he expressed surprise at the inclusion of the novel PQ3 update in the forthcoming update, remarking, “It turns out that iOS 17.4 has more than meets the eye.” And if Gurman didn’t foresee it, then nobody did. As he highlights, this update will be “invisible to users,” as once you’ve updated your iPhone in early March, enhanced protection will be embedded in every Message you send and receive, safeguarding our ongoing conversations for when more advanced computers emerge to hack them, they’ll remain encrypted.

His principal comment was this: “The technology elevates the encryption of conversations in an effort to thwart attacks in the future from quantum computers — machines with enough power and mathematical prowess to overwhelm current defenses. While that danger doesn’t exist today, the upgraded encryption is meant to prevent future breaches and “harvest now, decrypt later” attacks. That’s where hackers steal someone’s information today and then attempt to crack the data open when future technology allows it.”

It is a significant update, undoubtedly. As Bleeping Computer words it, iMessage, with its user base of almost 1 billion, currently offers end-to-end encryption, so even if someone intercepts your messages, they’re incapable of doing much with them. Nonetheless, it highlights, “Quantum computing threatens the existing encryption schemas with nearly instant cracking.”

Further elaborating, “PQ3 integrates for its post-quantum cryptographic needs the Kyber algorithm, which is backed by the global cryptography community… A significant innovation within PQ3 is its periodic post-quantum rekeying mechanism, a first of its kind for large-scale cryptographic messaging protocols.”

March 4 (or March 5) can’t arrive soon enough. Perhaps maintain your messaging nondescript and vanilla until then.

February 26 update. It appears that one of the changes on the horizon for the iPhone for EU users, the elimination of support for web apps mentioned above, may be sparking controversy. These web applications, which have been on the iPhone since the earliest days, have been disabled in the EU from iOS 17.4 to align with the DMA.

However, the Financial Times has reported that the EU’s competition regulators have “sent queries to developers last week seeking to ascertain the impact of Apple’s choice to deactivate so-called ‘progressive web apps’ in the EU, seen as a precursor towards a thorough investigation.”

In essence, there could be an antitrust investigation as a result of Apple’s actions. The company explained that the rationale for discontinuing progressive web apps was because, as elucidated by FT, “ browsers besides its own Safari software would expose users to security and privacy risks that were not permitted under the law. Nevertheless, the move also extinguishes an avenue to developers attempting to evade the 30 per cent commission fees that Apple levies for transactions conducted through its App Store.”

The newspaper reached out to the European Commission regarding this, who stated, ““We are indeed examining the compliance packages of all gatekeepers, including Apple. In that context, we are particularly probing the issue of progressive web apps, and can affirm dispatching the inquiries to Apple and to app developers, who can provide valuable information for our assessment.”

All of this intimates that the journey to meeting the requirements of the DMA appears likely to be arduous and turbulent, with both the EU and Apple persisting in modifications or requests.

It’s intriguing how something that might seem somewhat trivial, progressive web apps, could evolve into something pivotal. As Apple has noted, “We anticipate this change to impact a small segment of users. Nevertheless, we regret any repercussions this change — made as part of the efforts to abide by the DMA — may have on developers of Home Screen web apps and our users.”

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