How iOS 17.3’s stolen device protection works, and if you should update

Apple’s newest update, iOS 17.3, finally dropped on 22 January, with a selection of new features designed to protect your iPhone/iPad and keep them running smoothly.

The tech giant is urging all iPhone/iPad users to download the latest update, which fixes 15 bugs and includes several important new features.

The brand’s new stolen device protection aims to make it harder for thieves to access the personal details stored on your device, which include banking, email, social media and messaging apps.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What are iOS 17.3’s new features?

The new iOS 17.3 update has several new features (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty)

Stolen device protection

The biggest new feature in the new iOS 17.3 update is the ability to better protect your phone through the new stolen device component.

At present, if your Apple device is stolen, all a thief needs is your lock screen password to access highly sensitive information. But with the new stolen device protection, additional security measures are introduced to keep your data safe.

Apple music collaborative playlists

Apple Music subscribers can now enjoy collaborative playlists.

This enables multiple people to edit and control shared playlists on the music streaming platform, including reacting with an emoji to a song in a collaborative playlist that someone else added.

New Unity Bloom wallpaper

The new Apple Unity Bloom wallpaper (Photo: Apple)

In honour of Black History Month (which is celebrated in February in the US and Canada), iOS 17.3 features a new wallpaper named Unity Bloom in all iPhones.

According to Apple, the blooming flowers and red, black and green colourway represent Pan-Africanism and symbolise “generations working together to address injustice and dismantle systemic barriers”.

How does stolen device protection work?

Stolen device protection requires you to enter your biometric authentication, such as Touch ID or Face ID, multiple times to access some of your sensitive settings and information, such as your Apple ID password.

When you’re away from familiar locations like home or work, stolen device protection prevents another person from performing critical device and Apple ID account operations (like changing your device passcode or Apple ID password) by requiring biometric authentication with Face ID or Touch ID with no passcode fallback.

When stolen device protection is turned on, more sensitive operations require a security delay: a successful Face ID or Touch ID, an hour’s wait, then an additional successful biometric authentication.

Security delay helps prevent someone from making changes to settings that can lock you out of your iPhone or Apple ID account. These measures help protect your device and account, and give you more time to turn on Lost Mode using the Find My app or Find Devices on iCloud.com.

Stolen device protection is an optional security feature, but Apple recommends that all users activate this as soon as they have the new update.

Should I update my phone to iOS 17.3?

iOS updates generally aim to enhance user experience, increase security and fix bugs rather than disrupt core features, so it makes sense to get the latest update.

Simply go to Settings > General > Software Update and download iOS 17.3.