Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) looks at brand new Apple products during an Apple event on September 12, 2023 in Cupertino, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Apple released iOS 17 for iPhones on Monday. It's Apple's biggest software update of the year, and is available for anyone with an iPhone from 2018 or later.
Apple releases a big update to the iPhone's operating system every year alongside new iPhones, and you don't necessarily need to buy a new device to get access to the latest software.
This year's update has a lot of improvements to some of the most-used apps, including the Phone app, Messages, and Safari.
There are a lot of changes, but here are some of the highlights you need to know about:
Apple's Contact Posters in iOS 17 will change the way your phone looks when you recieve a call.
- Contact posters. One of the biggest changes will be a new feature that allows iPhone users to choose a picture and font to change how they appear when they call other people's iPhones. With iOS 17, users can create your own "contact poster" in a very similar way to how users can customize their lockscreen.
- Better autocorrect. Apple's autocorrect has been improved with a transformer-based language model, a relative of the technology that is used in ChatGPT. Users can also automatically finish their sentences using autocorrect by tapping the space bar if there's a suggestion.
Apple SOS Assistance.
Source: Apple Inc.
- Roadside assistance. The feature will let users with recent phones call AAA in the U.S. through satellites, if there's no cell service. It requires a phone with Apple's satellite service called SOS, so will only work on last year's iPhone 14 or this year's iPhone 15.
- New iMessage interface. Apple's text messaging interface has gotten a remodel, moving hidden apps such as stickers or the camera to a menu on the left-hand side of the screen, as opposed to above the keyboard. The Messages app can now also automatically transcribe short audio messages. Searching your old texts is also significantly improved.
- Stickers. While the iPhone has had stickers — little images you can place on top of chats — for a few years now, in iOS 17, Apple has put all of the sticker features in a new piece of software that can be accessed through the new iMessage interface. The new "experience," as Apple calls it, can use machine learning to automatically cut subjects — like your cat's face — out of photos to make new stickers from them.
- Automatic "got home safe" notifications. A feature called Check In can send automatic notifications to friends and family based on if you got home safely or if you've tapped a button after a period of time.
StandBy Mode in iOS 17
Todd Haselton | CNBC
- Standby dock mode. iPhones charging horizontally on a magnetic MagSafe dock now turn into a sort of dashboard that can display the time, your photos, upcoming appointments, information in Widgets, or even a "Live Activity" such as a tracker for your Uber Eats delivery.
- Offline maps. Users can now save parts of Apple Maps for offline in case they don't have internet access, like when driving to a remote location. It's also handy to save your metropolitan area in your phone for faster and more reliable routing.
- Drop the "hey." Just "Siri." It's cleaner. Apple's voice assistant no longer requires a "hey" in front of "Siri."
Apple Voicemail transcription.
- Live voicemails. Now, when users receive a call, they can send it directly to voicemail with a button on the iPhone's lock screen. If the caller leaves a voicemail, it will be transcribed in real time, allowing the user to decide if it's something they might want to pick up, after all.
- Better two-factor authentication. Users who use both Apple's Mail app and the Safari browser will find an extremely handy feature: When a log-in code is sent to your email, it will automatically show up above the keyboard. Also, codes sent via text message are now automatically deleted after you've input them, saving you from seeing a bunch of unread-message notifications that are actually just log-in codes.
- Password-protected private browsing. Apple's on-phone private browsing mode, which doesn't save web history, now can be password-protected and unlocked with Apple's Face ID.
- A new business card. Trading information with other iPhone users is now as simple as bumping two iPhones together. Apple's AirDrop feature will trade specific phone numbers, contact posters, or email addresses with the user's permission.
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
- Tap "General."
- Tap "Software Update." You may have a drop-down menu directly underneath to pick iOS 17 or a beta version, if you've tried pre-release software. Your iPhone will automatically restart once it's ready.