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Apple releases iOS 17.5: Here’s what it offers and why you should update

Apple iPhone 15 Pro homescreen with Nomad case and wallpaper.

Max Buondonno/ZDNET

On Monday, Apple rolled out its latest software update for the iPhone: iOS 17.5. Available for the past few generations of iPhones, the new version offers some new and noteworthy features, but the security patches alone make this an update you should install on your phone.

Among the new features, the standout item is third-party tracker detection. A year ago, Apple and Google revealed that the companies were teaming up on a new specification to protect users against Bluetooth-enabled trackers. The goal was to stop such devices from tracking you without your consent.

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The new tracker protection is available from Apple in iOS 17.5 and from Google in Android 6.0 and higher. Automatically enabled, the feature should alert you if someone else’s AirTag, Find My Device tracker tag, or other industry specification-compatible Bluetooth tracker is moving around with you. You can then view the tracker’s identifier, activate a sound on the tracker to find it, and view instructions on how to disable it.

Next on the iOS 17.5 list is a new series of Pride Radiance wallpaper images designed to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities. Also available for the iPad and Apple Watch, the wallpaper illuminates the word “Pride.” The letters even move dynamically when you unlock your device, a cool effect.

The third item focuses on the Apple News+ app. With iOS 17.5, a new Offline mode in Apple News+ provides access to the Today feed and the News+ tab even if you’re not connected. If you like word games like Wordle, a new Apple News+ game called Quartiles challenges you to spell out words by selecting tiles with two to four letters. A new scoreboard for Apple News+ puzzles serves up player stats and other info in the Crossword, Mini Crossword, and Quartiles games. On its own, Apple News+ costs $12.99 per month.

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On the security front, iOS 17.5 fixes a bunch of bugs — 15 in total. One vulnerability could have let malware determine your location using the Find My app. Another could have allowed a malicious app to view sensitive location information via Apple Maps. A third could have let an attacker with physical access to an iPhone access notes from the lock screen. And a fourth could have allowed a shortcut to output sensitive user data without your consent.

Of course, iOS 17.5 isn’t the only new kid on the block. On Monday, Apple also rolled out updates for the iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV.

iPadOS 17.5 brings with it the same new and enhanced features as in iOS 17.5, namely the tracking detection, the Pride wallpaper, the Apple News+ tweaks, and the 15 security patches. WatchOS 10.5 meanwhile includes a new Pride Radiance watch face as well as six security fixes.

MacOS 14.5 adds the Quartiles game and scoreboard for Apple News+ along with 22 security patches. tvOS 17.5 adds the usual performance and stability improvements with fixes for five vulnerabilities.

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To update your iPhone or iPad, head to Settings, select General, and then tap Software Update. Tap the Update Now button to install the new version. On an Apple Watch, open the Watch app on your iPhone, select General, choose Software Update, and then tap the button to install the update.

On your Mac, click the Apple icon and select System Settings. Under Settings, head to General, select Software Update, and then click the Update Now button. On your Apple TV, go to Settings, select System, choose Software Updates, and then select Update Software.

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