Apple’s iOS 17 is official, making its debut on WWDC 2023’s keynote stage. Highlights include new safety features, a built-in journaling app, a new nightstand mode, redesigned contact cards, better auto-correct and voice transcription, and live voicemail. And you’ll be able to drop the “hey” from “Hey Siri.”
Your contact book is getting an update with a new feature called posters, which turns contact cards into flashy marquee-like images that show up full-screen on your recipient’s iPhone when you call them. They use a similar design language as the redesigned lock screens, with bold typography options and the ability to add Memoji, and will work with third-party VoIP apps. There’s also a new live transcription feature for voicemail that lets you view a transcript of the message a caller is leaving in real time. You can choose to ride it out or pick up the call, and it’s all handled on-device. You’ll also be able to leave a message on FaceTime, too.
Some updates to messages include the ability to filter searches with additional terms, a feature that jumps to the most recent message so you can catch up more easily, transcriptions of voice messages — similar to what the Pixel 7 series introduced — and a series of new features called Check In that shares your live location and status with someone else. It can automatically send a message to a friend when you’ve arrived home, and it can share your phone’s battery and cell service status to help avoid confusion if you’re in a dead zone.
Stickers are getting an overhaul, too, with the ability to add any emoji or photo cutout as a “sticker” positioned on iMessages or anywhere within the system. Live photos can be turned into animated stickers, too, and you can now add effects to stickers.
AirDrop gets an update to send contact information — cleverly called NameDrop — which will send your selected email addresses and phone numbers (and your poster) just by bringing two iPhones near each other. It also works between an iPhone and an Apple Watch. Photos can be shared the same way, and if the file is a big one, it’s now possible to move out of range while continuing the download.
iOS 17 also includes keyboard updates, including enhancements to autocorrect. It now relies on a new language model for better accuracy, plus an easier shortcut to revert to the original word you wrote if necessary. There’s now in-line predictive typing and sentence-level autocorrections to correct more grammatical mistakes. It’ll finally learn your favorite cuss words, too; Apple’s Craig Federighi even made a “ducking” joke onstage. Dictation uses a new AI model, too, that’s more accurate.
A new app called Journal automatically suggests moments that you might want to commemorate in a journal entry. Your entries can include photos, music, and activities, and you can schedule reminders for yourself to start writing. It’s end-to-end encrypted, too, to keep things private.
StandBy is a new mode for charging that turns the screen into a status display with the date and time. It can show information from Live Activities, widgets, and smart stacks and automatically turns on when your phone is in landscape mode while charging. You can swipe to the right to see some of your highlighted photos, and it comes with customizable clockfaces. Siri will surface visual results in StandBy, and the display shifts to a red tone at night to avoid disrupting sleep.
Last but not least, Siri gets a boost, too, and finally lets you drop the “hey” from “Hey Siri.” It will also recognize back-to-back commands.
This version of iOS follows a meaningful update in iOS 16, which included a major lock screen overhaul, useful iMessage features like editing and unsend, and the time-sensitive Live Activities surfaced in the Dynamic Island. It was an update that centered on helping you do more with your phone while having to dive into apps less for simple tasks.
There was plenty to like about iOS 16, but it wasn’t exactly a seismic change. It presented some valuable quality-of-life upgrades but nothing that fundamentally changed how we use our phones. It also emphasized the divide between the iPhone 14 Pro and the regular iPhone 14 since only the Pro offers the always-on display and Dynamic Island features that make the most use of the updates.
iOS 17 will be available to developers starting today, and will be released as a public beta next month. It’ll be fully available this fall for the iPhone XS and newer.