Apple recently released the second beta version of iOS 17.4 to developers and public beta testers. This incremental update to iOS 17 brings several new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements. Let’s take an in-depth look at what’s new in iOS 17.4 beta 2.

About iOS 17.4 Beta 2

The iOS 17.4 beta 2 update comes with build number 21E5195. It is available over-the-air through the Software Update section in the Settings app.

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For most users, the update is around 1GB in size. However, some users upgrading from older iOS versions may see larger update sizes.

In addition to iOS 17.4 beta 2, Apple also seeded corresponding updates for iPadOS 17.4, watchOS 10.4, tvOS 17.4, and macOS 13.3 to developers.

New Features in iOS 17.4 Beta 2

While the first beta was focused mainly on bug fixes and performance improvements, beta 2 introduces some new user-facing features and changes.

New City Digital Widget

The most visible new addition in iOS 17.4 beta 2 is the City Digital widget. Accessible through the Widgets section on your home screen, this new widget displays the time, temperature, and your current city or region.

It comes in three different sizes – City 1, City 2, and City 3. The largest City 3 widget shows the most information including the full city name, time, temperature, and weather conditions.

Home Tab Added in First-Party Apps

To bring more consistency across the system, Apple has updated many of its apps to replace naming like “Listen Now” and “Watch Now” with a universal Home tab.

For example, the new Music app in iOS 17.4 beta 2 features a Home tab instead of Listen Now. Similarly, the redesigned TV app uses Home instead of Watch Now. Even the Books app now says Home instead of Read Now.

Improve Wallet Connections Option

There is a new analytics toggle under Privacy & Security settings called Improve Wallet Connections. When enabled, this sends anonymous account usage data to Apple to help improve the account linking experience in Wallet.

AirPods Connectivity Improvements

If your AirPods are connected to a non-Apple device like an Android phone or Windows PC, iOS will now explicitly show that information when you try to connect the earbuds from your iPhone.

This should reduce confusion when AirPods seem unavailable for connecting to your iPhone.

Support for FIDO Security Keys on Windows

While more of a backend change, iOS 17.4 beta 2 enables support for using FIDO-compliant security keys to sign in to iCloud on Windows devices. This allows two-factor authentication using hardware security keys on Windows, similar to what was already supported on Macs.

Resolved Bugs and Issues

In addition to the new features mentioned above, iOS 17.4 beta 2 also fixes several notable bugs and issues that plagued previous iOS versions.

Notifications Bug Fixed

One of the most annoying bugs on iOS 16 and 17 was the notifications bug that caused notifications to jump around when swiping between home screens or opening Control Center.

Many users complained about this jittery notification animation over the past several months. Finally, in iOS 17.4 beta 2, this bug appears to be completely squashed.

Emoji Stickers Now Showing Properly

Another resolved issue has to do with emoji stickers in the Messages app. Due to a bug, the emoji stickers section showed no stickers and appeared blank in iOS 17.3 and earlier versions.

With iOS 17.4 beta 2, emoji stickers are now properly appearing once again in Messages.

Improved Modem Firmware

Every major iOS release includes updated modem firmware to improve cellular connectivity and performance. iOS 17.4beta2 features new modem firmware that should help with networking issues some users faced.

If you experienced cellular data or Wi-Fi problems on previous iOS 17 builds, installing beta 2 may resolve those problems.

Performance Improvements

In my testing so far on an iPhone 14 Pro Max and older iPhone 11, iOS 17.4beta2 delivers excellent performance. App launch times are quick, animations are smooth, and system responsiveness feels very snappy.

Benchmark tests also show strong performance in line with previous iOS versions. On the iPhone 14 Pro Max, iOS 17.4 beta 2 scored 2914 for single-core and 7254 for multi-core performance in Geekbench 5.

Battery life metrics are also solid so far, easily lasting a full day on my iPhone 14 Pro Max. Standby battery drain seems well optimized, similar to the stable iOS 17.3 release.

What to Expect Next

iOS 17.4beta2 refines the user experience and squashes more bugs as Apple prepares the final version for public release. We can expect subsequent beta releases to continue improving stability and polish.

The third beta should arrive within the next 1-2 weeks, followed by a series of additional betas over the coming month.

If Apple maintains an aggressive development schedule, we could see iOS 17.4 release to the public as soon as late February. However, a March release also seems likely depending on the pace and scope of future betas.