iOS 17: Discover the Latest Features for Your iPhone
Whether you bought one of the new iPhone 15 models or are holding on to a 5-year-old iPhone XS, you can download iOS 17 now. Apple released the operating system on Monday, Sept. 18, after introducing it at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
A Sneak Peek into iOS 17
I started beta testing versions of iOS 17 in July on a newer iPhone 14 Pro and an older iPhone XR to see how the latest OS will affect most people with compatible devices. The OS brings a lot of new and valuable features to your iPhone, especially in Messages, which might make you wonder why those functions weren’t there in the first place. Some apps, like Shortcuts, are less daunting than previous iOS versions.
StandBy Mode: Your New Favorite Feature
When Apple announced StandBy mode at WWDC, I was skeptical. My wife and I don’t have a bright display, like the Amazon Echo Show, or any other kind of supplementary hub in our home, and we’ve been just fine — and yes, if you come by later, I’ll probably be yelling about the weather. But StandBy mode is my favorite new iPhone feature in years, and it’s not even close.
Sure, you could say StandBy mode makes your iPhone into an expensive bedside clock, but you’re missing out on so much functionality if you use it as a clock. Interactive widgets on my screen made it easy to check the weather, read the latest headlines, and much more. I could also change the music playing through connected smart speakers without fishing my iPhone out of my pocket.
Notifications also appeared on my screen, and I could easily preview them without unlocking my iPhone. So when I got a message from an app like Ring, I could quickly check if it was the mail person delivering a package or a car driving down the road. With Live Activities and StandBy mode combined, I could follow an MLB game score while watching an NFL game on TV.
StandBy mode even started to improve my relationship with my iPhone. Since I started using StandBy mode, I regularly leave my iPhone behind on its charging stand while I make another cup of coffee or grab the mail. When I notice it’s not in my pocket, I might shrug and think, “It’s on the charging stand. I’ll grab it later,” and those instances are getting more frequent. And I’ve welcomed this change. Disconnecting from our devices could have significant health benefits, like reduced anxiety and depression, so whether Apple intended it to or not, StandBy mode could help improve your mental health. I certainly feel more relaxed.
Yes, autocorrect will now learn from your messages, so it won’t correct you all the “ducking” time. Is this cool? Yeah. Am I immature? Also, yes. The cursing in my texts now flows without interruption or confusion. But more so, autocorrect has improved to understand better your meaning. It’s also not as eager to correct things like acronyms or slang.
Messages Get an Upgrade
Messages also get a host of other new features that make staying in contact with others easy, including an autocorrect undo function. Another upgrade is a catch-up arrow in group chats. The app bar has been replaced with a drawer that houses iMessage apps like Camera, Memoji, and others. And you can now create and send your own Live Stickers.
Create Your Live Stickers
With iOS 16, Apple introduced the ability to lift a photo’s subject from the background, giving you (mostly) clean-looking cutout pictures. With iOS 17, Apple lets you use these cutouts to create your Live Stickers stickers. You can add different effects to your stickers, like a white outline or a holographic filter, to make your stickers stand out. And you can create animated stickers from Live photos.
Enhanced Security with Two-Factor Verification
Two-factor verification messages are a great way to improve security when logging into an account or service. With iOS 17, your Messages and Mail app can automatically delete two-factor verification codes once the code has been used to autofill its intended field. This helps keep your inboxes clean and tidy.
Shortcuts Made Simpler
Confession time: I never used Shortcuts on my iPhone before. Setting them up confused and frustrated me. But thanks to iOS 17, I changed my attitude and have already integrated a few into my everyday life. Apple made accessing and adding shortcuts to your homepage easier, and the new layout is less overwhelming.
Camera App Enhancements
In iOS 17, the Camera app has an onscreen level so you can straighten your videos and pictures. This feature helps ensure better alignment and enables you to take straight photos.
Reminders now has a new feature that lets you create a grocery list separated into sections with headers like Produce, Breads and cereals, and Household items. The app automatically makes these sections and sort them into the appropriate categories as you add items.
What’s Coming Later
There are a few features that are not included in the initial release of iOS 17. The Journal app, Collaborative Playlists in Apple Music collaborations, and AirDrop file transfers when devices move out of range will be available later this year.
The latest iOS version brings a lot of functional improvements to your iPhone, even if you don’t have the newest model. Not all the changes are significant and flashy, but most feel meaningful. Before you update your iPhone to iOS 17, back up your device and consider waiting a day or two to ensure a smooth update process.
For more Apple news, check out the iOS 17 cheat sheet and reviews for the iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max.