iOS 17.5, bringing new features to iPhones

Apple released the iOS 17.5 release candidate to public beta testers and developers on Tuesday, about two months after the release of iOS 17.4. The latest update brings a handful of new features to the iPhones of some developers and beta testers, like new wallpapers and more ways for people in the European Union to download apps.

We recommend downloading the RC only on something other than your primary device. Because this isn’t the final version of iOS 17.5, these features might be buggy and may shorten your battery life, and it’s best to keep those troubles on a secondary device.

If you’re a developer or public beta tester, here are some of the new features you might find in the iOS 17.5 RC. Note that the beta is not the final version of iOS 17.5, so there could be more features landing on your iPhone when iOS 17.5 is released. There’s no word on when Apple will release iOS 17.5 to the public yet.

More ways for people in the EU to download apps

With iOS 17.5 beta 2, Apple now allows people in the EU to download apps from a developer’s website. Apple posted an online guide that could help developers distribute their apps over the web.

“In eligible regions, you can distribute approved, non-marketplace apps from your website,” Apple writes. “To distribute your app, fill out a webform that outlines the qualifications, and if approved, Apple enables you to download a framework that facilitates the secure installation of your app from your website.”

This guide also says developers need to use iOS 17.5 beta 2 or later to enable web distribution of their apps.

Developers also have to opt into new App Store business terms for the EU and pay a 0.50 euro Core Technology Fee for every first-time app installation over 1 million in the past 12 months. But Apple gives developers the first 1 million first-time app installations for free.

“Membership in the Apple Developer Program includes one million first annual installs per year for free for apps distributed from the App Store, Web Distribution, and/or alternative marketplaces,” Apple writes.

Apple announced this capability on March 12, alongside other EU-specific developer features, like the ability to choose the design of in-app promotions.

This is the latest EU-specific feature to come to the iPhone. When Apple released iOS 17.4 in March, a big part of that update was allowing people in the EU to download alternate app stores in order to comply with the region’s Digital Markets Act.

New Pride Collection wallpapers

Apple announced Monday a new set of Pride Collection wallpapers that would be arriving on iOS soon, and they appear to be coming on iOS 17.5. After downloading the iOS 17.5 RC, these backgrounds were available on my devices. The backgrounds read “Pride” in three different color schemes inspired by LBGTQ+ communities.

New puzzle game Quartiles for Apple News Plus subscribers

Apple’s iOS 17.5 beta 1 also introduces a new puzzle game to the News app for Apple News Plus subscribers, called Quartiles. At the start of each puzzle, you are given a grid of 20 tiles that have parts of words on them, like “te” and “tra”. You then have to combine these tiles to form different words. Words can be between one and four tiles long, but each grid can be made into five four-tile words – you get the most points by combining the tiles this way.

If you subscribe to Apple News, which costs $13 (£13, AU$20) a month, you can find Quartiles by going to News > Following > Puzzles and swiping the carousel at the top of the screen. You can also scroll down the Puzzles page to find Quartiles below the Crossword Minis.

Puzzle leaderboards for Apple News Plus subscribers

In addition to Quartiles, a new feature in iOS 17.5 beta 3 lets Apple News Plus subscribers easily compare their daily puzzle scores with other people’s. To turn on this feature, go to Settings > News and under News+ Puzzles tap the toggle next to Game Center.

Screenshot by Zach McAuliffe/CNET

You will be able to compete with your friends and families on your News Plus puzzles.

“Send your results to Game Center to see how you rank among friends and other solvers on today’s puzzles,” Apple writes under this setting.

It’s important to note that anyone can enable this setting, but if you don’t have an Apple News Plus subscription, you can’t play the daily puzzles and therefore can’t post anything to these leaderboards.

Podcast widget changes color

Screenshot by Zach McAuliffe/CNET

The Podcast widget can change color to match what you’re listening to.

With iOS 17.5 beta 1, your Podcast widget will change color depending on the artwork of whatever podcast you’re listening to at the moment. So if the podcast you’re listening to has red artwork, the widget will turn red.

This aesthetic feature was in some early iOS 17.4 betas, but Apple removed it from that update’s public release. In iOS 17.4, Apple also brought transcripts to podcasts

Books app counter tool

It appears iOS 17.5 beta 1 also wants to help people achieve their reading goals. With the update, the Books app gets a counter in the top right corner of the app’s homepage. If you tap this counter, the app takes you to your Reading Goals menu. This menu shows you how much time you’ve spent reading today. There’s also a button here that reads Explore the Book Store which opens the Book Store.

At first, Books sets your daily reading goal for five minutes a day, but you can change this goal to anywhere between 1 minute or the absurd 1,440 minutes (24 hours) a day – I like to read, but that feels a little aggressive.

Detect and disable unknown trackers

Your iPhone might soon be able to help you detect and disable unknown trackers.

Sarah Tew/CNET

According to 9to5Mac, code found in iOS 17.5 hints at the introduction of a new anti-stalking feature on your iPhone. The feature would reportedly detect unwanted trackers, like AirTags and other third-party tracking devices, and then help you disable them.

“This item isn’t certified on the Apple Find My network,” the code reads, according to 9to5Mac. “You can disable this item and stop it from sharing its location with the owner. To do this, follow the instructions provided on a website by the manufacturer of this item.”

Looking through Settings and Find My on iOS 17.5 RC, I can’t find any new option to enable this feature on my iPhone 14 Pro or XR.

New Repair State mode

If you take your iPhone to an Apple store for repairs, Apple recommends turning Find My off. However, if you try to turn Find My off at the store and you have Stolen Device Protection enabled, the security delay will make you wait an hour to turn Find My off.

According to 9to5Mac, code in iOS 17.5 beta 4 points to a new mode called Repair State that lets you bypass this security delay.

Supposedly, if you enable Repair State at a repair center, your iPhone will ask you to enter your Apple ID and password to confirm you own the iPhone. An Apple technician will then confirm you own the iPhone in question after observing you enter your information. Once confirmed, the technician will move forward with the repair without interruption from the security delay.

However, much like the ability to detect and disable unknown trackers, I couldn’t find this feature on either of my iPhones with iOS 17.5 RC. It’s possible that Apple will introduce these features with later iOS 17 updates or even iOS 18.
Those are a few of the new features some developers and beta testers will see in the iOS 17.5 RC. That doesn’t mean these are the only features coming to the next iOS update, or that these changes will stick when iOS 17.5 is released to the public. As of now, there’s no word on when Apple will release iOS 17.5.

For more on iOS 17, here’s what was included in iOS 17.4 and here’s our iOS 17 cheat sheet. You can also check out what was announced at Apple’s May event.