After taking the wraps off its refreshed Mac lineup, Apple previewed new features coming to iOS later this fall. The iOS 17 software update brings many new features across Phone, FaceTime, Messages, and AirDrop, among others.
The Phone app on iOS 17 is now more personalized with Contact Posters that allow users to customize how they appear on incoming calls. It can either be a photo or Memoji with eye-catching typography and font colors. Apple says the Contact Posters feature will be available for third-party calling apps as well, thanks to CallKit integration.
Live Voicemail, another interesting Phone feature, provides real-time transcription of the caller as they speak. Users can choose to pick up the call while the caller is leaving their message. Apple says the calls identified as spam by carriers won’t appear as Live Voicemail, and will be declined instantly. All the transcription data is retained on the device, thanks to the Neural Engine.
FaceTime on iOS 17 now supports audio and video messages, which means when a user calls someone who isn’t available they can share a message that can be interacted with later. The biggest update to FaceTime comes on Apple TV 4K, powered by Continuity Camera, which allows users to initiate a video call directly from Apple TV, or start the call on iPhone and then hand it off to Apple TV.
Apple is bringing significant updates to Messages on iOS 17, with new emoji stickers and the ability to create Live Stickers by lifting subjects from photos. There are also effects to Live Stickers, and a dedicated drawer in the keyboard for user’s stickers. Apple has improved the search functionality in Messages as well. Searching in the Messages app is now more precise with search filters.
In Messages, there’s a new catch-up arrow that indicates where the user last left off in the conversation. In fact, replying inline requires just swiping on a text bubble. Also, audio messages are transcribed automatically.
Messages also introduces a new feature called Check In, which allows users to automatically notify their friend or family member that they have made it to their destination safely. If they are not making progress toward their destination, then useful information such as the device’s location, battery level, and cell service status will be temporarily shared with the selected contact.
Another significant update coming to AirDrop on iOS 17 is NameDrop. It allows users to easily share contact information by simply bringing their iPhones together, or by bringing an iPhone and Apple Watch together. The same gesture also allows for sharing content or starting SharePlay while in close proximity. Apple has also made under-the-hood improvements to autocorrect and dictation, offering improved accuracy and prediction – thanks to a new machine learning language model and speech recognition model.
Among many other new features, Apple is introducing StandBy on iOS 17 which offers users important glanceable information when the iPhone is on standby and charging. It can be used on a nightstand, kitchen counter, or desk, and can be customized to display a range of useful information such as clock, photos, or widgets. Live Activities, Siri, incoming calls, and larger notifications are also supported on StandBy, making it convenient to view from a distance. On iPhone 14 Pro, the StandBy feature is always available, thanks to the always-on display.
Apple’s take on journaling comes in the form of Journal, a new app that helps iPhone users reflect and practice gratitude. The Journal app makes use of on-device machine learning to offer personalized suggestions for a user’s journal entry. With scheduled notifications on board, the suggestions are curated from recent activity, including photos, people, places, workouts, and more. Apple says the Journal app is built to protect a user’s privacy with on-device processing and end-to-end encryption in place.
iOS 17 will be available to the public this fall as a free software update. It will be compatible with iPhone Xs and later models. Apple Developer Program members can now access the developer beta of iOS 17, with the public beta available next month.