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iOS17 – is it a huge update? Will it be a winner?

The annual iOS update is the most important OS update of the year for Apple – so what will this year’s highlights be?

iOS 17 - all the new features & best bits

Sharing is caring

iOS has a theme running through it – sharing and communication.

At WWDC Apple took the chance to revamp some of its classic and most loved features like AirDrop and FaceTime whilst introducing some brand new ones like Journal & StandBy.

With the Phone, FaceTime and Messages apps being so central to iPhone they have been thoroughly refreshed for this coming year.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering said;

“With iOS 17, we’ve made iPhone more personal and intuitive by deeply considering the features we all rely on every day,”

Phone

The most striking change to Phone, the one that will hit you first is personalised Contact Posters. In the fall you’ll be able to create a poster of how you wish to appear when others receive your call. These will also be available to use on third-party phone apps such as WhatsApp as well.

The next update has me a little confused. I’m not sure if missed calls will now be answered by your cellular service or on your device. Live Voicemail will transcribe missed calls in real-time giving you the choice to pick up and answer the call at any point if you wish. Theoretically, spammers will be identified and the call declined. If all this comes off and works, this could be the feature of the year for iPhone. iOS 17 will also have the ability to automatically block incoming messages & files that contain sensitive material via an opt-in blurring option.

You’ll be able to leave video and voice messages on FaceTime calls along with reactions – similar to the ones you use currently in messages.

The final huge upgrade to the Phone app is that FaceTime will now be enabled to use on your TV via Continuity Camera. This means you’ll be able to either start a call on your 4K Apple TV or start the call on your iPhone and hand it off. To make the experience as immersive as possible FaceTime on Apple TV comes with Centre Stage so you’ll be able to walk around at home with your friends or family up on the TV.

Messages

The updates to the Messages app look a little more superficial from what I can tell.

I can’t ever see myself using Live Stickers…ever even with a new raft of effects. There is a new expandable menu and search & filters are supposed to have been improved. Audio messages are transcribed in real-time and there will also be a catch-up arrow showing where you left off in a conversation.

If as a kid you were ever lectured to ‘call when you arrive’ well iOS 17 will now have you covered with Check In which will do the honours for you. As soon as you initiate a Check In your family & friends will be notified of your safe arrival – if only this had been around when I was a kid!

As I said, there doesn’t seem that much to get excited about in Messages with iOS 17. If there are any features I’ve missed, please let me know…

Sharing

These next two features are very much at the heart of the latest iOS.

AirDrop which I use all the time has just got better! Even if you leave the office before the files have finished transferring they will carry on transferring via iCloud and the web.

And the wonderfully titled NameDrop means that now there is no need to fumble around to manually share your contact details. By simply bringing iPhones together or iPhone to Apple Watch you’ll be able to share contacts or start a SharePlay session to watch a movie or listen to a song together.

Autocorrect & Dictation are meant to be getting an update meaning they should be more accurate and should learn more about you every time you type or dictate. You’ll soon find predictive text recommendations inline as you type, so you hopefully should be able to simply tap the space bar to complete a sentence.

StandBy

This was the other iOS 17 poster boy!

With your iPhone in landscape orientation and on charge StandBy will now display a range of information from clocks, photos, Live Activities and widgets. Think of it as iPhone meets bedside table clock or smart home hub. With Always-On display enabled all you need to do is tap the screen and pop it on charge.

Journal

This was the last major announcement for iOS 17.

I have never been someone that’s used a journal, but that said I have plenty of friends who swear by them. Machine learning will help create personalised suggestions from recent activities helping you to start the journal entry.

Imagine you did a workout at more or less the same time every day, the journal would start to learn to ask you some questions at roughly the same time of the day to help you reflect and encourage your journaling & lifestyle habits.

AirPods

Three new awesome features come to my most used bit of Apple kit – AirPods.

Adaptive Audio (available for AirPod Pro 2nd Gen only) is a combination of the Transparency Mode & Noise Cancellation modes. Personalised Audio will adjust the volume of your content depending upon your environment and Conversation Awareness which will switch AirPods to Transparency and reduce what you are listening to when you start speaking to other people.

There is also a new mute function coming to AirPods as well – a single press on the stem to mute, and again to unmute.

Lastly, Apple says that Automatic Switching will also be improved across all AirPods – but on that, I’ll wait to be convinced. To this day I find that feature infuriating.

The sidemen

Those were all the main headliners in this year’s upcoming iOS17 but some other updates worth mentioning are;

  • Safari gets improved private browsing
  • Faster, easier and more secure sharing of passwords & passkeys
  • Improvements to the health app
  • Maps can now be downloaded, saved and used offline
  • An AirTag can now be shared with up to five people meaning everyone in the group can keep track of an item
  • Collaborative playlists and in-car SharePlay
  • A specific new groceries list comes to Reminders grouping items and theoretically making it easier when shopping
  • AirPlay will be available to use in IHG Hotels by the end of the year
  • An improved Home app with 30 days of activity on tap to look back at
  • The wake word for Siri will simply be that – the ‘Hey’ part is a thing of the past
  • Photos, Privacy & Accessibility all get minor tweaks and Visual Look Up is now available in paused video.

Wrapping Up

So that is a pretty comprehensive overview of all the announcements made this week at WWDC about iOS 17.

If Live Voicemail does what it says, that will be incredible. The other features that caught my attention are Conversation Awareness and the StandBy function. As normal, if you are brave, the beta of iOS 17 is out now, but for the rest of us, it will available in late summer as normal just ahead of the iPhone 15 event.

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