iOS 17.3 beta 1 is here — here’s the new features for your iPhone

iOS 17 logo on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

Apple's always got an iOS beta brewing, and right now that's iOS 17.3. Currently most iPhone users will be running iOS 17.2, but developers and those who've opted into the public beta are able to try the next update's features already.

We’re still in the early stages of the beta, and that means we won’t know about every change coming to iOS 17.3. But this first beta release is a good starting point, giving us a glimpse of all the new features and upgrades iPhone users can expect to see next year, such as the elusive Apple Music collaborative playlists or the new Stolen Device Protection system.

For non-beta users, you'll likely see this feature appear on your phone early in 2024. But if you have access, here's what to look out for in iOS 17.3.

Stolen Device Protection

As thieves get more tech savvy, so will iOS. Apple's iOS 17.3 beta 1 features a new setting called Stolen Device Protection designed for those times thieves may have spotted your passcode before they steal your phone.

Stolen Device Protection in iOS 17.3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Previously having your phone passcode meant thieves could do whatever they like, including accessing sensitive data and switching off anti-theft features like Lost Mode. Stolen Device Protection adds some extra obstacles, and locks many of those sensitive areas behind Face ID or Touch ID verification, with no ability to bypass those checks with a passcode.

Other more sensitive features and settings, including Stolen Device Protection itself, will be locked behind a delayed biometric security system. This requires you to verify your identity with Face ID or Touch ID, and then repeat the process an hour later — though Apple claims that process won’t happen in “familiar locations” like home or work.

Collaborative Playlists are back

Apple Music x Primephonic

(Image credit: Apple Music)

Apple Music’s Collaborative Playlists were originally included with the iOS 17.2 beta, only to be pulled ahead of the official release, reportedly due to Apple’s fears about possible abuse. Thankfully, Collaborative Playlists are back in the iOS 17.3 beta 1, allowing multiple Apple Music users to edit and collaborate on a single shared playlist. 

Setting up a collaborative playlist in iOS 17.3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It had been reported that Apple would be adding precautions to minimize the potential for spam and abuse with Collaborative Playlists, including a limit on how many “pending requests” a playlist could have. But so far, it’s not entirely clear if any such measures have been implemented in the Collaborative Playlists feature or what they might be.

Apple introduced something new when re-introducing collaborative playlists - emoji reactions. There's now an emoji button in the main player window, which when tapped pops up some suggested reactions, as well as a plus icon for finding your own. Picking an emoji makes it appear in a fun little animation, which your collaborators will be able to see when they play the same track in the playlist.

Collaborative playlist emoji reactions in iOS 17.3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iOS 17.3 beta — what we’d like to see

So far iOS 17.3 beta 1 is a little bit lacking. While we expect there to be a number of smaller bug fixes and improvements released with the software, we’d also like to see more features included in the final release. At the head of our wish list are some of the things Apple has already promised and has yet to deliver with iOS 17. Here’s what we want to see included in future iOS 17.3 beta releases, ahead of the official public release next year.

AirPlay in your hotel room: Apple announced that it was partnering with major hotel chains to bring AirPlay support to the rooms. The idea being that you scan a QR code on the hotel TV, and that offers the ability to securely share media to the bigger screen, without needing wires or to plug things in.

We had originally expected to see this feature launch before the end of the year — even if the rollout was expected to be quite slow. It depends on partnered hotels rolling out the right tech to their rooms, after all. But Apple will need to push things along by adding support to iOS before any of that happens.

Apple ID proximity: Rather than signing into your Apple account on multiple devices, Apple ID proximity lets you log in with an existing device that’s in the surrounding area. This is accomplished by pairing two devices by scanning an on-screen “particle cloud”, at which point you’ll be logged into your Apple account

This was originally slated to arrive this year as part of an iOS 17 update, but so far, it hasn’t materialized.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.