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4 best new iPhone features in iOS 17.4 you won’t get outside Europe

With iOS 17.4 now available, European users have access to a few new exclusive features that aren’t available anywhere else in the world. Thanks to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, Apple had to open up the iPhone to sideloading and more. With that in mind, these are the best new features iPhone users in Europe can enjoy.

Alternative app stores

Image source: José Adorno for BGR

Currently, there isn’t a major alternative app store available, but Epic Games and MacPaw, with Setapp, are among the first companies reading their stores to compete with Apple’s services. Once they’re available, users can download apps that might not be available on the App Store. This is one of the best iPhone features coming to Europe in light of the DMA.

The most prominent of these alternative app stores is likely to be the Epic Games Store, as Epic readies the return of Fortnite on the iPhone. Once the Epic Store launches, European users will once again be able to play the uber-popular battle royale game.

Download apps directly from websites

Apple recently announced that this spring, iPhone users in the EU can download apps directly from the developer’s website. This change is expected to be part of iOS 17.5. Here’s what Apple said in its Developer’s blog announcement:

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“Web Distribution, available with a software update later this spring, will let authorized developers distribute their iOS apps to EU users directly from a website owned by the developer. Apple will provide authorized developers access to APIs that facilitate the distribution of their apps from the web, integrate with system functionality, back up and restore users’ apps, and more. “

Choose your own browser

Apple Safari browserImage source: Apple Inc.

The biggest change that European users can take advantage of right now is choosing their own browser. Once they update to iOS 17.4, Apple will ask what their favorite browser is. The list is randomized and will show the top 15 most downloaded browsers.

While some users might prefer to stick with Safari, downloads of Brave Browser and other options spiked as more users started trying different options. Personally, I think this is one of the best iPhone features available for European users.

Third-party NFC access

Although third-party companies haven’t taken advantage of this yet, Apple opened up access to third-party NFC usage. Apple agreed to allow third-party apps to make contactless payments on iOS devices for free without using Apple Pay or Apple Wallet.

Here’s what Apple says: “Through our ongoing discussions with the European Commission, we have offered commitments to provide third-party developers in the European Economic Area with an option that will enable their users to make NFC contactless payments from within their iOS apps, separate from Apple Pay and Apple Wallet.”

This means Samsung could offer its Wallet, for example, at no extra cost to users. Whether a third-party developer will actually end up taking advantage of this feature is unclear. But it is an option for iPhone European users.

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