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The Surprise iPhone Update Is Just Hours Away

Apple is good at announcing its big, headline-grabbing software features ahead of time. But a few weeks ago it became apparent that there is an important feature on its way which had never been mentioned by Apple: Stolen Device Protection, and it’s now just a matter of hours away.

This feature popped up completely unannounced in the first developer beta of iOS 17.3 and created quite a stir. Which is fair enough because it’s a striking and important new feature, because it means that if someone manages to steal your iPhone and they also have your passcode, their ability to invade your digital life, lock you out of the iPhone or drain your bank account will be very significantly curtailed. It looks like it will be a significant game-changer. So, it really couldn’t come soon enough.

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But then there was a hiccup. The second developer beta of the software had something in its secret sauce which caused dire problems for some users. In some cases, the beta would brick iPhones so they had to be reset to escape the dreaded boot loop. Apple removed the update within hours.

This issue meant that the release schedule for iOS 17.3 was suddenly in doubt. What had been expected for the third week of January seemed more likely to be postponed until the week after or even February.

However, Apple somehow caught up, and the third beta was released on January 10, which was promising. This was followed by the release candidate, the one which lands before the general release, on Wednesday, January 17. That’s just a day or two after you’d have expected it.

Then, a few days ago, Apple let slip the release date when it unveiled the Black Unity Sport Band for the Apple Watch. Alongside the Watch band there’ll be new lock screen options for iPhone and iPad. These require iOS 17.3 or iPadOS 17.3 respectively, and Apple confirmed that these would be released “next week”, that is week commencing Monday, January 22.

So, when exactly should we expect this update with its key innovation?

It could be as soon as Monday, January 22. After all, that would be in good time for the Black Unity Sport Band, which goes on sale on Tuesday, January 23. On the other hand, the earlier delays could mean that the software won’t be ready until Wednesday.

However, Apple most likes to release iOS software on a Tuesday, and since that’s the day the Watch Band is out, that’s favorite for release. Get ready for January 23, for the coolest iPhone update to arrive. If there’s any change, we’ll be covering it here at Forbes.

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