Your eagerly awaited iPhone update has arrived. iOS 17 brings a slew of exciting new features and enhancements that streamline your iPhone experience, especially when connecting with fellow iPhone users.
While iOS 16 introduced lock screen customizations as its major visual change last year, Apple has now applied a similar facelift to phone calls and contact lists.
Additionally, Apple is working to make FaceTime even more compelling, offering users more reasons to stay within the Apple ecosystem.
When I had a sneak peek at the developer build about a month ago, my focus was on messages and FaceTime, both of which received significant attention in this update.
After spending more time with the final product, iOS 17 comes across as a substantial quality-of-life upgrade for iPhone users. It doesn't have a single standout feature, but its cumulative improvements are undeniably impressive.
iOS 17 is compatible with 20 different iPhone models, dating back to the 2018 iPhone XR.
Since many of this year's OS updates are not particularly demanding in terms of processing power or machine learning, older iPhones that support iOS 17 won't miss out on much.
However, for features like StandBy, which works best with always-on displays, you'll need an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro to fully enjoy its capabilities.
With other devices, you'll need to tap the screen to access information, which defeats the purpose of StandBy.
StandBy also leverages the same iOS widget Smart Stacks, allowing you to swipe between different sets of information.
iOS 17 introduces interactive widgets, allowing you to control smart home devices or complete tasks without launching full apps.
Additionally, Reminders and to-do lists get a helpful automated grocery list feature that recognizes when you're composing a shopping list and groups together items typically found in the same grocery store section.
Contact Posters and FaceTime
One of the notable visual changes in iOS 17 is the introduction of Contact Posters.
These posters blend various profile photos, fonts, and colors and appear when someone calls you, FaceTimes you, or when you're browsing your contacts. Even the profile photo doesn't need to be taken in Portrait mode to achieve the stylish cutout effect between the image and text.
Apple's new feature, NameDrop, facilitates contactless contact sharing with customization options. By bringing two compatible iPhones close to each other, you can choose which phone numbers and emails to share.
This interaction is accompanied by a delightful visual undulation, sound effect, and haptic feedback.
With FaceTime, you can now leave video voicemails if your call goes unanswered. While it's essentially sending a video, it provides another way to communicate.
iOS 17 introduces several improvements to Messages. Live Stickers, animated stickers derived from Live Photos, are now neatly organized in one drawer alongside memoji, emoji, and third-party stickers. You can also lift subjects out of photos by long-pressing on them in the Photos app.
Furthermore, stickers can be added to photos, documents, and screenshots with Markup, expanding their versatility.
A new Check-In feature in Messages can automatically notify someone when you arrive at a location.
If you don't arrive by a specified time, your iPhone will prompt you to confirm your well-being. The recipient can also monitor your signal status and battery life. You even have the option to share your route.
The keyboard has seen improvements, with a new "transformer language model" enhancing autocorrect accuracy in English, French, and Spanish.
Autocorrected words are temporarily underlined, allowing you to see the changes, and tapping on a correction reveals the original word. Predictive text suggestions have also been refined.
For the first time, iOS 17 allows you to use your favorite words, even if they're on the edgier side, and your iPhone will adapt accordingly.
Live Voicemail and Voice Note Transcription
Live Voicemail, although not available in the UK yet, is an intriguing feature. It enables you to screen calls through live transcription, allowing you to decide whether to pick up the call based on what's being said.
Voice note transcription is another standout feature. When someone sends you a voice note on Messages, iOS 17 can automatically transcribe it as long as the audio is clear.
This feature, which debuted in iOS 17, has quickly become a favorite for many users.
Improvements Beyond the iPhone
iOS 17 extends its benefits to AirPods Pro. Users of the second-gen AirPods Pro can now enjoy adaptive audio and Conversation Awareness.
Adaptive audio adjusts noise cancellation levels in noisier environments, while Conversation Awareness lowers the volume when you're speaking, making interactions in public spaces more comfortable.
If you have AirPlay-compatible devices, iOS 17 simplifies the audio playback process by offering speaker options and seamless connections when playing audio from your iPhone.
However, the auto-connect feature with devices like HomePod may require you to be in close proximity.
Siri also receives minor yet noteworthy improvements, including the removal of the "Hey Siri" trigger phrase and the ability to handle back-to-back commands.
Cross-device enhancements also encompass AirTags and other Find My-enabled peripherals. Multiple individuals can now track these devices, allowing shared monitoring.
Other Notable Features
Safari introduces separate browsing profiles for work and personal use, enhancing your internet browsing experience. Group password and passkey sharing streamline password management.
A subtle yet impactful upgrade involves iOS 17 automatically inserting two-factor authentication codes and messages sent to your email into your web browser.
Once the code is entered, iOS can also automatically delete the text or email containing it, clearing space in your Messages app for more important texts.
During the WWDC 2023 reveal of iOS 17, Apple mentioned that some features would not be available at launch.
One notable absence is the Journal app, which is expected to arrive later in the year. The Journal app will extract details from other apps, such as Messages and Podcasts, to suggest topics for journaling.
Other forthcoming features include enhanced AirDrop capabilities and music collaboration, allowing friends to contribute to playlists.
iOS 17 also brings significant accessibility improvements. Personal Voice, a feature that simulates your voice after 15 minutes of speaking certain phrases, can be invaluable for individuals who may lose the ability to speak.
Additionally, iOS 17 allows you to speed up haptic touch for faster access to menus and secondary features.
iOS 17 delivers not only visual changes but also a plethora of small yet impactful upgrades, especially for users who primarily interact with other iPhone users.
Whether you're using FaceTime, Messages, or AirPods Pro, iOS 17 introduces a range of features that enhance your iPhone experience. Keep an eye out for more acquaintances updating to iOS 17, as many of these features truly shine when used collaboratively.