It's a new year and Apple's got a new version of iOS brewing: iOS 17.3. While it's only been a month since iOS 17.2 dropped, rumor has it Apple will roll out an update to its popular mobile operating system sometime in January or early February. So, if you already have one of the best iPhones, what can you expect when Apple’s big software upgrade launches?
We've rounded up all the rumored iOS 17.3 features on the horizon, including a new security stopgap to keep hackers' mitts off any sensitive information on your iPhone and the revival of the collaborative playlist feature we saw shelved in iOS 17.2. Of course, all of this should be taken with a grain of salt as it's subject to change, but several iOS 17.3 betas have given us a good idea of what to expect from Apple’s next iterative update.
Before we dive in, an important development to note: Last week, Apple pulled the latest iOS 17.3 beta 2 just hours after its release due to an issue that was breaking devices. As reported by MacRumors, several users who updated complained their devices became stuck in a boot loop. The problem seemed tied to having the Back Tap feature enabled; whether you had a Double Tap or a Triple Tap set up, the feature would always boot loop your device. Once the bug is addressed, Apple will re-release the beta to developers. Hopefully soon so that we don't have much longer to wait for the full public launch.
Stolen Device Protection
As hackers get more crafty, so too will iOS. The most significant rumored iOS 17.3 improvement is a brand new security feature called Stolen Device Protection, a handy stopgap for those times when thieves may have spotted your passcode before swiping your phone.
We've already seen this feature in action as part of the iOS 17.3 beta 1 that rolled out to developers in December. When activated, Stolen Device Protection requires Face ID or Touch ID authentication to do things like view passwords, turn off lost mode, erase content, and more — with no ability to bypass those checks with a passcode.
Other more sensitive features and settings will be locked behind a delayed biometric security system requiring users to verify their identity with Face ID or Touch ID, and then repeat the process an hour later. Apple claims that the process won’t trigger in “familiar locations” where users frequently use their phones like home or work.
Previously, a passcode-possessing iPhone thief could gain access to all kinds of sensitive information at their fingertips. Stolen Device Protection aims to diminish that security threat significantly.
Collaborative Playlists are back
Apple Music's Collaborative Playlists first made their debut in the iOS 17.2 beta but were removed by Apple before the official release due to concerns about potential misuse. Fortunately, Collaborative Playlists made a comeback in the iOS 17.3 beta 1, allowing multiple Apple Music users to collectively edit, add, reorder or remove songs to a shared playlist.
It's a nifty little feature Spotify users have enjoyed for some time now that's finally making its way over to Apple Music. Alongside the re-introduction of collaborative playlists, Apple's also adding a new emoji button in the main player window for users to react with emojis like on messaging apps. When tapped, the button shows some suggested reactions as well as a plus icon to search for more. Selecting 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.
As for Apple's concerns, reports suggest the company plans to put several precautions in place to prevent spam and abuse, including a limit on how many “pending requests” a playlist could have. As it stands, though, it remains unclear whether such measures have been implemented and what they might entail.
Important security patches
Last but certainly not least, Apple's expected to roll out multiple security patches with the latest iOS 17 update. iPhones have recently been the targets of many spyware attacks, leading Apple to beef up security and include several critical vulnerability patches with iOS 17.2.1. We're expecting iOS 17.3 to introduce several important preventive measures as well, possibly for flaws already being used in attacks.
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Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment.
Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats. She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.