Download iOS 17.4 now for vital security fixes & podcast transcripts

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It’s time to update your iPhone again, because Apple has launched iOS 17.4, adding a bunch of helpful and fun features in addition to vital security updates.

One of the big additions comes to Apple Podcasts. There’s now a transcription integration, making it easier to enjoy podcasts in multiple ways, which is a win for accessibility. It further builds on the major iOS 17 update from last year that made the AirPods even better.

It also wouldn’t be an iOS update without some new emoji to play with. iOS 17.4 comes with several cute new options, like a mushroom, a phoenix, or a lime. There’s also now a shaking head emoji, perfect for sassy responses to the group chat. You can also face existing people and body emojis in different directions, with new variations to 18 emojis for more customisation.

Music lovers also benefit from the latest software update. When using Music Recognition to find what song you’re hearing, you can now more easily add the results to your playlists and library on Apple Music. This also includes Apple Music Classical, in case a bit of Beethoven caught your ear.

iPads are also included, with iPadOS 17.4 launching at the same time as iOS 17.4. The set of features is pretty much identical, so it’s worth updating your devices as soon as possible – especially for the security updates.

iOS 17.4 Apple Podcasts update

The main addition to iOS 17.4 comes in the form of Apple Podcast transcripts. It’s potentially a big help for both creators in reaching a wider audience, and listeners (or now readers) who now have more ways to tune in. For now, it’s limited to English, French, Spanish, and German languages.

Following the iOS 17.4 update, you can read a show in its entirety via text. It also means you can search the transcript to find specific words or quotes, and then play the episode from that specific point. While playing an episode, the transcript highlights each word as it’s spoken, helping you follow along.

Apple iOS 17.4 podcast transcript update
Image: Apple.

To access the transcript feature in Apple Podcasts, tap the bottom-left icon on the Now Playing screen. Apple designed the feature with accessibility in mind so that people who are Deaf or hard of hearing can also enjoy podcasts. The text and colours used ensure plenty of contrast for reading large text passages too.

For podcasters, there are two transcription methods. One is more hands-off, as Apple Podcasts will automatically generate transcripts shortly after a new episode is published. For the most accurate transcription, you can also upload manual transcripts via RSS tagging.

Official update notes

Apple always publishes the full documentation of each software update on its website. Here’s a rundown of what iOS 17.4 includes:

Emoji

  • New mushroom, phoenix, lime, broken chain and shaking heads emoji are available in the emoji keyboard
  • 18 people and body emoji add the option to face them in either direction

Apple Podcasts

  • Transcripts let you follow an episode with text that highlights in sync with the audio in English, Spanish, French and German
  • Episode text can be read in full, searched for a word or phrase, tapped to play from a specific point, and used with accessibility features such as Text Size, Increase Contrast and VoiceOver

Enhancements and bug fixes:

  • Music recognition lets you add songs you have identified to your Apple Music Playlists and Library, as well as Apple Music Classical
  • Siri has a new option to announce messages you receive in any supported language
  • Stolen Device Protection supports the option for increased security in all locations
  • Battery Health in Settings shows battery cycle count, manufacture date and first use on iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models
  • Fixes an issue where contact pictures are blank in Find My
  • Fixes an issue for Dual SIM users where the phone number changes from primary to secondary and is visible to a group they have messaged

These software updates also address potential security vulnerabilities, so it’s always a good idea to download the new software irrespective of the new features. With iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4, a list of specific fixes is available online to peruse.

Many of the fixes concern sensitive data, ensuring that various apps can’t access private information unknowingly. Another instance involved the potential to view hidden photos without proper authentication, which has been resolved.

Devices compatible with iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4

As long as you’ve got any of the following iPhone or iPad devices, you can download the latest update by going to Settings, General, and then Software Update.

Compatible iPhones:

  • iPhone 15
  • iPhone 15 Plus
  • iPhone 15 Pro
  • iPhone 15 Pro Max
  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation or later)

Compatible iPads:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad (6th generation and later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation and later)

Typically, Apple supports devices with roughly six years of software updates, which is traditionally one of the longer cycles from phone brands. Recently, Google committed to seven years of updates with its Pixel 8 devices, matched by Samsung’s Galaxy S24 range.

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