Apple unveiled a lot of new products at a panel at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, including the instantly viral Apple Vision Pro headset.
The company also announced several key updates and fresh features that will soon be coming to iPhones with the new iOS 17 operating system update.
“With iOS 17, we’ve made iPhone more personal and intuitive by deeply considering the features we all rely on every day,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, in a press release. “Phone, FaceTime, and Messages are central to how we communicate, and this release is packed with updates we think our users are going to love.”
Here are seven major updates you can look forward to when the iOS update is available this fall, according to Apple. (An exact release date hasn’t been announced yet, but Apple did reveal the updates will be available on all iPhone 11-14 models, plus iPhones XS, XS Max, XR and SE 2nd generation or later.)
1. You’ll be able to send audio and video FaceTime messages.
With the new software, you’ll soon be able to send audio and video FaceTime messages to others, even when they aren’t available for a call.
According to Apple’s preview of the update, you’ll be able to record yourself through the FaceTime app to send a message and even have the option to spice up the conversation with some fun new reactions, including “hearts, balloons, fireworks, laser beams, rain, and more.”
You’ll also be able to swap between FaceTiming on an iPhone and Apple TV, whether you want your friends and loved ones to get the big-screen treatment or just move around your home.
2. You’ll be able to make Live Stickers out of your own photos.
Along with some extra-cute emojis expected to be added, users who update to the new operating software will be able to make Live Stickers out of their photos. These will appear in the iMessage sticker section and can have extra effects placed on top of them. (Apple demonstrated this by turning a user’s real-life cat into a sticker that can be texted to others, and then added a rainbow filter on top of it.)
3. There’s a new Check In feature for safety.
Apple says its new Check In feature can help with safety beyond the traditional “Let me know when you made it home” text reply. If you want to let someone know when you are home safe, you’ll be able to send a Check In, and the person on the other end will be notified when you arrive at your destination.
Apple will also notify the other person if you are not moving toward your set destination, and relay battery percentage, cell service and other key safety data to your trusted contact.
4. You can make a customized personal Contact Poster that shows up on someone’s phone when you call them.
While iPhone users with current iOS software can already adjust the fonts, color and other design aspects of their lock screen, the newest update plans to take that one step further.
You’ll also be able to completely customize a new Contact Poster, a full-screen design that will show up when you call other people. Gone will be the standard name above the green and red accept/decline buttons; you’ll be able to choose between an actual selfie, a Memoji or any other photo you enjoy. Much like the lock screen, you can also customize the font style, color and more.
5. A new Live Voicemail feature already has people talking.
Apple currently provides a transcription of each voicemail message through the Phone app. Pretty soon, though, you’ll be able to see a live version of every message transcribed straight to your lock screen, and you’ll have the option to accept the call while the person is still leaving a message.
Thankfully, this feature won’t apply to calls marked as spam. Those calls will soon be instantly declined, giving iOS 17 users more peace of mind when it comes to avoiding annoying telemarketers.
It’s not yet clear how iOS 17 will display a message if the caller decides to rerecord or delete it. According to Apple’s website, the transcription will run through the Neural Engine and remain private between callers, as it is transcribed and handled on-device.
6. NameDrop will enable people to share their contact information by simply bringing their phones together.
AirDrop is getting even more robust with the addition of NameDrop, a new feature that lets users share contact information by bringing their two iPhones (or one iPhone and one Apple Watch) together. If this concept sounds slightly familiar, people on social media pointed out that this update is reminiscent of an episode of the dystopian tech series “Black Mirror.”
7. You can journal alongside your photos.
Another new app arriving with iOS 17 is Journal. Unlike the standard notes app, Journal will encourage a focus on well-being and gratitude. It will suggest possible prompts through recent photos and encounters with people. In Apple’s preview example, Journal recognized that a user went to the beach and asked “What will you remember most about your outing?”
What else is coming?
“We’ve also reimagined AirDrop with new ways to share, autocorrect gets even better, and we’re introducing all-new experiences with Journal and StandBy” – an app that displays “glanceable” information, such as the time, when the phone is charging on its side — ”plus so much more,” Federighi added. “We can’t wait for everyone to try it.”
On top of that, you’ll no longer have to use the phrase “Hey Siri” to summon the voice-activated helper, but instead, just utter a simple “Siri.”
Other key iOS 17 additions include collaborative playlists on Apple Music, password sharing, access to maps when offline, a mood and emotion tracker on the Health app, a quick way to stream to certain hotel TVs via Airplay and stronger privacy protections when using Safari in private browsing mode.