Apple iOS 17: all the key updates seen at WWDC 2023
Apple iOS 17: all the key updates seen at WWDC 2023
Note: This article was first published on 6 June 2023.
Apple is bringing many new features to its iPhone operating system, all packed within Apple iOS 17. We’ve summarised all the key updates below, as seen at Apple’s developer conference, WWDC 2023.
Updates to Phone
Phone, the default iPhone calling app, now supports Personalised Contact Posters. In a nutshell, you can customise specific callers and contacts with features similar to how you’d personalise your Lock Screen. Personalise Contact Posters lets you specify the font, colours, and images used for each contact, and it also supports vertical text for languages that use them (such as Japanese and both Simplified and Traditional Chinese). App developers can use CallKit API also to support Personalised Contact Posters in their calling apps.
Voicemail now gets real-time transcription just as voicemail messages start coming in, allowing users to determine if the message content is important enough to drop what they’re doing and join the call. Real-time voicemail transcription is handled on-device, so the message content isn’t sent anywhere beyond your iPhone for processing.
FaceTime now gets Record FaceTime Messages for users who want to make a video note, if the other party isn’t available to take a call.
Messages (the default short message app on iPhone) now come with search filters, letting users narrow down their search results among their many text messages.
For groupchats, users can use the new Catch-Up arrow, which jumps to the first unread message in the groupchat.
The app is also now slightly more intuitive, supporting Swipe To Reply, where you can swish a finger to reply to a specific message.
Voice messages also get transcription, so you can read voice messages when it’s inconvenient for users to listen in.
Like WhatsApp’s Live Location, Messages now get In-line Location for users to keep others updated on their journey without leaving the Messages app. Added to that is the Check-In feature, which prompts users to press when they’ve arrived at their destination. The receiver gets a notification if they arrived safely, and a host of information (battery levels, last seen location, etc.) should they not.
The Plus button (sub-menu inside Messages) now gets significantly more menu options. One is Stickers, where all user-created Stickers and emoji Stickers are housed within a Sticker tab.
Finally, you can reply to messages with Stickers without having to respond to specific messages with symbols strictly. Stickers also have third-party app support so that other apps can use Stickers should app developers enable the option.
A new feature is NameDrop, where you use AirDrop to trade contact details with new people. You can select specific information (number, email, etc.) to share with people, along with your Personalised Contact Poster. NameDrop also works between iPhone-to-Apple Watch.
Large files now come with Internet connectivity support, so users trading large files don’t have to stay nearby for the file to finish its transfer. The AirDropped large file will hand off its transfer to an Internet connection (mobile data, Wi-Fi) should these users move apart.
SharePlay API is available to app developers who want to tap further into AirDrop’s sharing features.
Word prediction now uses a Transformer language model to run its predictions, which runs every time you tap the keyboard (rendering more accurate predictions).
The new language model also offers sentence-level grammar correction. In addition, users can tap underlined words to check what they originally wrote, and undo any edits they don’t need.
The same applies to Dictation, where speech is more accurate with its new language model.
The new app, Journal
Journal is a new app to the iOS ecosystem that does exactly what it says on the sticker tin — it’s an app for users to journal significant memories for their well-being.
The Journal app relies on on-device machine learning to piece together an eventful day on behalf of the iPhone user, taking cues from the user’s photos, location, music, workouts, and more. When journaling, the app puts out writing prompts to entice users into writing down their thoughts, based on the pieces of memories shown.
Content in Journal is highly private, and nobody has access to what’s inside, not even Apple.
Users can now turn the iPhone sideways when charging to get an alarm clock-sque Always On Display that shows the time, alarm and date.
StandBy comes with several faces, where you can select your preferred StandBy screen or favourite Widgets or Widget Stacks for display (e.g. your upcoming schedule, food delivery, etc.). Finally, StandBy also has a low-light adaption feature, where it switches to a red overlay when it’s time for bed.
Other minor updates
Users can also say “Siri” to use the voice assistant. In addition, Apple Maps now support offline maps (just like Google Maps), and albums in Photos now come with pet recognition to create pet albums.
Apple iOS 17 will come to iPhones “this fall”, Q3 2023.