I’m not usually one to jump for joy over operating system updates. In fact, my typical advice is to exercise some patience when a new OS hits the scene, letting the early adopters deal with any initial hiccups. But this year is different.
As Apple’s latest iteration, iOS 17, becomes available to the masses this Monday, it’s poised to inject a level of “wow” into iPhones like never before. An array of enhancements spanning messages, FaceTime, AirDrop, and more promises to usher in a new era of personalization, intuition, and sheer enjoyment for Apple enthusiasts.
For the past fortnight, I’ve been exploring the iOS 17 Beta version, and it’s high time to share what’s stood out during this sneak peek.
So, when can we expect iOS 17 to grace our screens?
Apple’s latest offering will make its grand entrance to the public on an upcoming Monday.
Now, which iPhones are worthy of iOS 17’s embrace?
Any device from the iPhone XS or newer generations will comfortably accommodate iOS 17. These models emerged in the technological spotlight back in September 2018. In essence, if your iPhone is six years or older, you’ll find yourself on the outside looking in when it comes to this latest Apple OS.
Regrettably, if you’re holding onto an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X, you’re out of luck. Don’t fret, though, determining your iPhone’s vintage is a breeze. Simply open your Settings app, navigate to General, and select About. Right there, next to the model name, you’ll find the answer you seek.
Curious about the inner workings of the live voicemail feature in iOS 17?
Imagine harkening back to the days of screening calls on an answering machine—it’s that kind of nostalgic charm. Now, when someone leaves a voicemail, you’ll witness a real-time transcription of their message, granting you the freedom to pick up the call at any juncture before they hang up. This feature is a game-changer, especially when it comes to sifting through those pesky spoof calls about your car’s warranty or potential timeshares in sunny Boca, all while distinguishing them from those crucial, “unknown number” calls from your doctor’s office.
Moreover, it puts an end to those heart-wrenching near-misses when you dash to answer the phone, only to arrive a fraction of a second too late. Plus, for those of us who still cherish the art of a phone call, you can now leave messages with that extra dash of urgency, even if the situation doesn’t quite warrant it. (Apologies, but not really, to my daughter for that one.)
In the grand scheme of things, this confirms that people do still dial each other up, rather than relying solely on texts or DMs. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who values a good old-fashioned phone call.
Curious about the utility of NameDrop in iOS 17?
NameDrop brings a touch of nostalgia into the modern era. Sharing contact information has never been simpler; just bring your iPhone close to another iPhone or Apple Watch, no physical contact required—just like the convenience of Apple Pay.
What’s more, you have full control over what information you share, including your name, photo, email, and phone number. It’s a fantastic time-saver, sparing you from tedious manual entries or phone calls to exchange contact details. Cast your mind back a decade or so when we relied on the Bump app for such endeavors. Apple poked fun at the idea during WWDC in 2013, but here we are, embracing the “bumping” trend once more—a satisfying full-circle moment, indeed.
Wondering how iOS 17’s Contact Poster feature functions?
It’s all about putting your best face forward. iOS 17 introduces exciting ways to customize how you appear on other people’s Apple devices when you call them. Additionally, you can personalize how a contact’s “poster” appears on your screen when they reach out to you.
This customization includes using photos with various effects, Memoji, monograms, and the option to tailor fonts and backgrounds. You can even choose to automatically share your Contact Poster with individuals in your contacts, ensuring they receive your latest, stylish selfie too!
Autocorrect enthusiasts will be thrilled to learn that iOS 17 promises more accurate suggestions. Apple dubs this upgrade a “more intelligent text feature,” but let’s be honest; it primarily tackles that one word that magically transforms into “duck” whenever you attempt to type it. With a fancy “transformer language model,” akin to OpenAI, the keyboard becomes much more adept at predicting your text. You can even add entire sentences with a simple tap of the space bar, and Apple pledges that dictation will also see marked improvements.
So, how does one activate Standby on iOS 17?
This exciting new mode turns your iPhone into a smart home display, and it’s incredibly convenient. If you’re among the multitude using a smart home display from Amazon or Google, now you can replace it with your iPhone. To make this magic happen, you’ll need an iPhone compatible with iOS 17. Simply turn your device on its side when charging, whether via cable or charging stand. (I happen to have one on my nightstand and borrowed a Belkin two-in-one to test this feature as well.)
Standby mode is customizable to a certain extent. On mine, I’ve added a clock and calendar, but you can incorporate photos, widgets, notifications, and select various styles and layouts to suit your preference.
Let’s touch base on personal safety with iOS 17’s Check In options. Apple has doubled down on personal safety features this year, and several new Check In options revolve around keeping people informed of your whereabouts during trips or events. You can initiate a Check In with a friend or family member, automatically notifying them when you reach your destination.
Sharing your location or requesting someone else’s location has become a breeze. A quick tap of the plus button in Messages with the new Location app simplifies the process. The location remains visible as a bubble in the conversation transcript until the session concludes. Additionally, you can view the location of your Find My friends at the top of the conversation under their name.
The burning question: Will iOS 17 drain your battery life?
Apple assures us that none of these new features should impact overall battery life. However, it’s not uncommon for early Beta testers to experience significant battery drain during the testing phase as bugs get ironed out and apps adapt. Personally, I haven’t noticed any substantial battery drain since switching to iOS 17, but I’ll keep a vigilant eye on it.
In the world of iOS 17, several other features deserve a nod:
- FaceTime now allows you to leave video messages when someone doesn’t answer your call. You can use both front and rear cameras and explore a plethora of video effects within the app.
- Your pets get the recognition they deserve with the ability to search for them in your photos app, just as you would for friends and family.
- Siri is now more responsive; you can simply say “Siri” without the “Hey Siri” prelude and make consecutive requests without repeating the wake word.
- Stickers in iOS 17 Messages offer a broader range of expressions beyond simple “thumbs up” or “heart” emojis. You can even create Live Stickers from your photos—just tap and hold on any person, animal, or object in your photos to lift them away from the background and create a Live Sticker. This feature might not be my cup of tea, but it’s bound to delight younger users.
As iOS 17 rolls out, it’s clear that Apple has packed it with a treasure trove of features to explore, enhancing our iPhone experience like never before.
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