Apple is rolling out the iOS 17.3 Release Candidate (RC) to beta testers, weeks after it reached beta testers last December. The iPhone maker is now expected to roll out the stable version of iOS 17.3 as soon as next week — the final release usually comes a week after the release candidate rolls out to beta testers. The update which has been in beta for a while, is an important one, mainly because it adds Stolen Device Protection, a much-needed security layer when an iPhone is stolen and the thief has obtained the victim’s passcode. It is one of a handful of features that will make it to this update.
iOS 17.3 RC began rolling out on Wednesday to users who have signed up to receive beta versions of Apple’s operating systems. Apple recently mentioned that an update was expected to arrive “later next week” in a press release related to the launch of a new Black Unity Sport Band for the Apple Watch. The release also mentions that a new Unity Bloom Lock Screen wallpaper for iPhone and iPad will also arrive with this update.
Apart from the new Lock Screen wallpaper, the most notable addition to iOS 17.3 is Apple’s new Stolen Device Protection feature. From what we have seen in a previous beta release, the opt-in feature (not switched on by default) will basically counter thieves who attempt to learn a user’s passcode before stealing their iPhones. Once stolen, these thieves will then use the passcode to attempt to lock the user out of their own iPhone (and Apple account) by changing passwords and settings, since they have knowledge or have seen the user type in their passcode.
Once enabled, Stolen Device Protection protection kicks in automatically once it detects that an iPhone is being unlocked in an unknown area or location. The feature then locks settings options behind biometric (Face ID or Touch ID) authentication. It then also adds a one-hour time delay for making changes to each setting, which makes it easier for the victim to regain control of their stolen iPhone by buying them more time.
Apart from Stolen Device Protection, iOS 17.3 will also bring Collaborative Music Playlists which is an Apple Music feature. It will let you team up with other users to create shared playlists, letting more than one person contribute to a playlist. Apple is also said to have added song reactions using emoji with this update.
Apple is also expected to bring next-generation CarPlay and support for AirPlay in hotels, which were announced previously at WWDC 2023 but have not yet been rolled out. And lastly, the EU’s DMA regulations that go into effect in March, might also force Apple to split the App Store in two and build in support for third-party app stores and app sideloading on iOS for iPhone models used in EU countries, according to a recent report.