Apple is working on the iOS 17.3 update, and has seeded three beta versions to developers and public beta testers so far. The update isn't quite as big as the previous iOS 17.2 update in terms of new features, so the testing period won't be long, and we expect it to launch before the end of January.
In terms of timing, a launch the week of January 22 might make the most sense. We have three trial versions, two of which did not add anything particularly notable, which suggests that there is not much testing left. If Apple is planning to release the update on the 22nd or 23rd, we can expect to see the iOS 17.3 update candidate release on the 15th, followed by the launch.
Apple could also release iOS 17.3 the week of the 29th, but that's the week VisionOS and the Vision Pro headset will be released. Apple sometimes bundles software version updates together, but since it's a brand new operating system, visionOS is unlikely to be accompanied by any other updates.
The last new operating system update released by Apple was watchOS in 2015. watchOS saw its official release on Friday, April 24, 2015, the same day the first Apple Watch models were launched.
Last year Apple released iOS 16.3 on January 23, and in 2022, Apple released iOS 15.3 on January 26, so a January 22 iOS 17.3 release date would be consistent with Apple's previous release timelines.
The main new feature of iOS 17.3 is Stolen Device Protection, a feature that prevents a thief who somehow gains access to both your iPhone and your passcode from accessing sensitive information. It locks many features behind Face ID scanning, preventing a thief from viewing iCloud Keychain passwords, turning off Lost Mode, using Safari Payments, and more.
It also adds a time-based delay before allowing Face ID, Find My, or Stolen Device Protection to be turned off, and before allowing your Apple ID or iPhone passcode to be changed.
Besides protecting against stolen devices, iOS 17.3 adds collaborative Apple Music playlists, a feature originally intended for iOS 17.2. With collaborative playlists, multiple people can contribute to one shared Apple Music playlist.
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