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iOS 17.5 boosts tracker security, makes repairs easier, adds ‘Quartiles’ game

Apple has released iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5, just a few weeks before its due to unveil iOS 18 to the world at WWDC 2024. As such, this is likely to be the last full-point iOS 17 update.

Though not as big of an update as iOS 17.4 back in March, there are a few things worth knowing. Most notably, alongside more routine security updates, Apple also improved the ability to detect unwanted tracking devices that may be following you around. There’s also a new daily Wordle-ish game for Apple News+ users, a ‘repair state’ mode for broken devices, and a better way to install apps for those based in the EU.

Unwanted trackers

Apple has long tried to protect users from nefarious AirTag usage by automatically notifying iPhone users if an AirTag they don’t own starts traveling with them for an extended period. But this does nothing to deter stalkers who use other tracker brands – until now.

Thanks to a collaboration with Google, your iPhone can now detect and notify you if any third-party Bluetooth tracker is unexpectedly traveling with you. It’s a cross-platform initiative that should help people feel safer, no matter what type of device they use.

Repair state

It’s now possible to send a device to Apple for repair without disabling Find My or Activation Lock. Previously, you’d have to turn these features off, which can be a bit unsettling when sending your precious iPhone or iPad off in the mail.

That’s thanks to a new feature called “repair state” that prepares the device for Apple technicians without disabling those important security features.

New things for News+

Subscribers of Apple News+, or those who get access via an Apple One bundle, got some nice updates with iOS 17.5, including an offline mode for reading without an internet connection.

More exciting is the release of an all-new word game called Quartiles, obviously intended to make the News+ offering compete with the extremely popular NYT games and puzzles. It plays a bit like Spelling Bee, but with word chunks instead of individual letters. Alongside the new game is a way to track your results and compare scores with others, not just for Quartiles but for Apple’s existing crosswords too.

EU downloads

Earlier this year, Apple relented to legal pressure and allowed third-party app stores to compete with its own App Store – in the EU only. Users who live in the EU can now go a step further, downloading apps from websites. No app store necessary at all.

Apple told developers that “in eligible regions, you can distribute approved, non-marketplace apps from your website.”

Anything else?

There are a few other tidbits: new Pride wallpapers, minor design changes for Podcasts, and reading goals in the Books app.

How to get iOS 17.5

Note that even with Automatic Updates switched on in Settings, it’s often faster to manually trigger the update process. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to check for the latest version of iOS, and App Store > Account to see which apps are due an update.