At its annual developer conference on Monday, Apple debuted iOS 17 and the slew of updates it will bring to iPhones everywhere later this year. The company unveiled changes to how incoming calls appear, new in-app messaging features and even a “standby” mode.
The new operating system introduced at WWDC 2023 will be compatible with the iPhone XR and later devices, rolling out in and around September. Here are the highlights – and for CNBC’s live blog of the entire event, click here.
Contact cards and video voicemail
With iOS 17, users will be able to choose how their contact cards appear, including what pops up when they place a call to another iPhone. They can update their image, whether a photo or Memoji, as well as its filter and the color and font of their name.
If you’re not a fan of voicemails, Apple has some good news. Live transcription will be coming for phone voicemails so users don’t have to listen to get the message. And since it’s in real-time, if something is important, you can “pick up the call to talk to them right then and there,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said on the livestream.
Another big change is that voicemail is also coming to FaceTime, so users can leave video recordings for friends and family.
Group chat hacks and voice note transcription
If you’re the notorious flake in group chats, iOS 17 has an important feature for you. It’s a “catch-up” arrow in the top right corner of the messaging window that allows you to jump to the message you read most recently, even if it was last week. You can now go beyond the normal emoji and use your own photos to create reactions, including animated stickers from Live Photos. Users can also react with stickers in third-party apps, Apple announced.
The company also said that dictation and autocorrect will now use transformer-based language models for speech recognition and prediction, for better accuracy and efficiency. If the feature gets things wrong, it’s now easier to revert back to your original text, Apple said, and in-line predictions will be more personalized: Just use the spacebar to accept a suggestion.
For those who like to overshare on voice messages, iOS 17 is delivering automatic transcriptions.
Airdrop gets a revamp, and so does location-sharing
Messaging now offers in-app location-sharing functionality, so you don’t have to click out of a conversation to view a contact’s shared location, and there’s also a check-in feature so you can see when someone has made it home safe. If you’re not heading towards your location, your iPhone will ping you to check in and allow you to add a time to your planned arrival. If you don’t respond, it can share your location and battery status with your chosen contact. Apple said all of that information is end-to-end encrypted.
The company also revealed updates to Airdrop, including “Namedrop.” The feature allows you to bring your device close to another person’s iPhone or Apple Watch and share contact information, specifying which of your phone numbers or email addresses you want to pass along.
If you’re big into showing off all those vacation pics, iOS 17 will let you continue sharing even when you leave Airdrop range and without losing quality.
Journaling comes to iPhone, outside the Notes app
Notes app power-users now have a new tool. Journal uses on-device machine learning to “inspire your writing” via personalized suggestions from your Photos app. Say you took a week-long beach vacation with your family: Journal may display where you went, your favorite songs from the trip and the photos you took, as well as a writing prompt for you to reflect on the highlights.
Users can schedule journaling prompts for a certain time of day, and the app’s content is encrypted so “no one but you can access it, not even Apple,” Adeeti Ullal, a senior engineering manager, said at the event.
When your phone is charging and turned on its side, iOS 17’s Standby mode allows it to turn into a clock, meeting schedule, music display, map, food delivery tracker and more. It’s “glanceable information designed to be viewed at a distance,” Federighi said on the livestream.
However you personalize the new feature, your iPhone will remember specific settings based on the MagSafe charging location. For instance, charging on your desk may mean Standby automatically displays your meeting schedule, while charging on your nightstand may defer to a selection of your favorite photos.