Apple has finally made iOS 17 official at WWDC 23, with a slew of customisation and feature updates. There are updates to Phone, AirDrop, FaceTime and Messages as well as a new keyboard with a better autocorrect. Your phone can now turn into a nightstand, it has a new journal app, better voicemail and the ‘hey’ in the “hey Siri” has been dropped.
iOS 17 is available to developers starting June 5. It’ll be available as a public beta in July 2023 before finally arriving in fall 2023 to the iPhone XS and newer devices.
The Phone app gets a major visual overhaul
Starting off with the phone app, iPhone users will have access to Posters, a new way of creating custom contact cards and calling screens. These ‘posters’ are very similar to Apple’s redesigned lock screen and will show up on your recipient’s phone every time you call them. There’s support for third-party VoIP apps as well.
There’s also Live Voicemail, a feature that uses Neural Engine and transcribes incoming voicemail into text in real time. You can choose to ignore or pick up the call as the caller leaves a message. Calls identified as spam by carriers won’t be transcribed and would instead be declined immediately.
FaceTime adds audio and video messages and more
FaceTime has also received an update adding more features to Apple’s flagship video calling app. You can now leave audio and video messages in case someone you’re calling doesn’t pick up the phone, in addition to new reactions like such as hearts, balloons, fireworks, laser beams, rain and more. These reactions can be enabled by “simple gestures” and will be accessible to third-party apps as well.
The app is also being extended to Apple TV 4K, meaning you can FaceTime people on just about any screen in your house. The feature is powered by Continuity Camera and allows you to either start a call on your Apple TV or start one on your iPhone and hand it off to your Apple TV later.
iPhone messages are now more featured packed than ever
Updates to messages include additional search filters letting users start a search and then add additional filters to quickly find what they’re looking for, a “catch-up” arrow shows where you last left off and users can swipe on message bubbles to reply in-line. Similar to the Pixel 7 series, voice messages on iOS 17 are automatically transcribed.
Stickers also get an overhaul. Any emoji or photo cutout can be added as a sticker within iMessage or anywhere else. Live photos can be turned into animated stickers and you can even select from a few effect options to add flair to your stickers.
Last but not least, iPhone messages are getting a new feature called Check In. It shares your live location and status with a contact of your choice, automatically sending a message to said contact when you reach your destination. Your phone’s battery level and service status will also be shared in case you lose signal somewhere along the way. All information shared is of course, end-to-end encrypted.
iPhones now have better autocorrect
Apple’s transformer language model, a “state-of-the-art on-device machine learning language model for word prediction” is hoping to improve autocorrect and better support typing and can fix more types of grammatical mistakes during sentence-level corrections.
Users will also get predictive text suggestions in-line as they type which can be added by just tapping the space bar. There’s also a new speech recognition model in place to help improve diction.
Your iPhone is now also a status display with StandBy
StandBy is a new charging mode that’ll display chosen information when your phone is in landscape and charging. Apple says this information is meant to be viewed at a distance, so big and bold fonts form most of the design theme. That said, you can choose between different clock styles, photos and widgets.
There’s also a small feature called Smart Stacks which can change the widgets showing on StandBy depending on the time of the day. Siri will also show visual results when in this mode and the display shifts to a red tone to avoid disturbing your sleep.
Use your phone as a journal
Apple has also announced a new app called Journal. As the name suggests, the app is meant to be used as a journal but uses on-device machine learning to find photos and videos you might want to write about.
Entries can include photos, music and activities with an option to schedule reminders for yourself to start writing. Everything is end-to-end encrypted to keep things safe and private.
Everything else in iOS 17
That’s not all though. There are tons of smaller updates in iOS 17 that’ll affect your user experience on a daily basis.
- AirDrop now has NameDrop, a quick way of sharing contact information by bringing two iPhones or an iPhone and an Apple Watch together. This same gesture allows content sharing and can start SharePlay to listen to music, watch a movie or play games.
- Apple Maps finally gets an offline mode.
- Airtags can now be shared with up to five people.
- The Photos app can now identify pets and categorise photos accordingly.
- You can activate Siri by just saying ‘Siri’, no “hey Siri” required. Once activated, Siri will listen to multiple commands without needing to reactivate.