Apple Releases iOS 17.5 with EU Sideloading and Anti-Stalking Features

Apple releases iOS 17.5, introducing Web Distribution for sideloading apps in the EU and an anti-stalking feature to warn users of unknown Bluetooth trackers. The update also includes security patches, a new Repair State function, and other features, ahead of the expected iOS 18 announcement at WWDC 2024.

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Apple Releases iOS 17.5 with EU Sideloading and Anti-Stalking Features

Apple Releases iOS 17.5 with EU Sideloading and Anti-Stalking Features

Apple has officially released iOS 17.5, bringing significant updates to comply with the European Union's Digital Markets Act and enhance user protection against unwanted tracking. The software update, available for iPhones and iPads, introduces Web Distribution for sideloading apps in the EU and a new anti-stalking feature to warn users of unknown Bluetooth trackers.

Why this matters: The EU's Digital Markets Act is a landmark regulation aimed at promoting fair competition and consumer choice in the digital market, and Apple's compliance with it sets a precedent for other tech giants. As the tech industry continues to evolve, these regulations will play a crucial role in shaping the future of digital markets and protecting user rights.

The introduction of Web Distribution marks a notable change for Apple, as it allows users in the EU to download individual apps directly from the developer's website. This update was mandated by the EU's Digital Markets Act, which aims to promote fair competition and consumer choice in the digital market. However, only developers who have a highly popular app in the App Store and are in good standing with Apple will be allowed to distribute their apps through this method.

To qualify for Web Distribution, developers must agree to the new EU business terms, have been in the Developer Program for two consecutive years, and have an app with more than one million first installs annually in the EU. Developers who do not meet these requirements can still apply, but with a standby letter of credit of one million Euros. Apps distributed via a website will undergo an initial review from Apple for security and technology misuse.

In addition to Web Distribution, iOS 17.5 includes an anti-stalking feature that warns users of unknown Bluetooth trackers from other networks, not just AirTags and similar hardware compatible with Apple's "Find My" network. This update is a response to the growing concern of stalking and tracking using small Bluetooth devices. Apple and Google have been working together to integrate alerts and warnings into iOS and Android to prevent criminal misuse of Bluetooth trackers.

The update also introduces Repair State, a new function for Find My, which keeps the feature enabled throughout the repair process, allowing customers to send in their iPhone for repair without turning off Find My. Other notable updates in iOS 17.5 include a new offline mode for the Today view in Apple's News app, a new word game called Quartiles added to the crossword puzzle section, and the patching of security vulnerabilities.

iOS 17.5 addresses 15 security vulnerabilities in various areas of the operating system, including a critical kernel vulnerability. Users can download and install the update through the Settings app or via Finder on macOS. It is recommended to create a full backup of the device using a Mac or iCloud before installing the update.

The release of iOS 17.5 comes just a few weeks before Apple's developer conference, WWDC 2024, where the company is expected to announce iOS 18, its next major update. iOS 18 is rumored to include a slew of new features, including a major overhaul of Siri powered by AI. As Apple continues to adapt to the evolving digital landscape and regulatory requirements, iOS 17.5 represents a significant step in balancing user choice, security, and compliance with the EU's Digital Markets Act.

Key Takeaways

  • Apple releases iOS 17.5 with Web Distribution for sideloading apps in EU.
  • New anti-stalking feature warns users of unknown Bluetooth trackers.
  • Update introduces Repair State for Find My, keeping it enabled during repair.
  • iOS 17.5 patches 15 security vulnerabilities, including a critical kernel issue.
  • Update sets precedent for tech giants to comply with EU's Digital Markets Act.