Unpacking the biggest iOS 17 features coming soon

iOS 17 iPhone update
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As expected ahead of WWDC, one of the major reveals from Apple overnight was iOS 17, coming soon to iPhones around the world.

There’s a lot coming with this software update, much of which is aimed at improving communication, sharing information, and making your phone more useful at a glance. Some of the additions add extra visual flair, while others add extra functionality like the ability to read a voicemail as it’s being recorded.

We could easily spend all day going over each iOS 17 detail meticulously, so here are the condensed highlights focusing on what you’ll find most helpful.

Live Voicemail transcribes callers in real-time

There’s nothing worse than a scam caller interrupting your day or someone calling with ‘urgent’ news that could’ve been a message. Live Voicemail looks like a great new feature that’ll help you screen calls and avoid frustration.

Live Voicemail

When enabled, Live Voicemail displays a live transcription of the message on your iPhone screen as the caller records it. If you see that the message actually is urgent, you can pick up and jump straight into the conversation. It all happens on-device using Apple’s Neural Engine technology, so the transcription remains private and secure.

Apple mentions that if your telco, like Telstra or Optus, has already identified a caller as spam, Live Voicemail won’t trigger and the call will automatically decline.

iOS 17 adds Check In to help keep family members safe

The Messages app benefits immensely from the iOS 17 update, with many improvements and features incoming. One of the most helpful and practical additions is the Check In feature. It notifies approved users when someone arrives safely at a destination via the Messages app.

You can choose specific contacts to share Check In information with, like friends and family members, and they’ll see your estimated time of arrival for the designated location. Once you arrive, the chosen contacts receive a notification so they know you’re safe.

iOS 17 Check In feature

In the event that you’re delayed, contacts then temporarily receive information from your device. This includes your device’s location, battery level, and your phone signal status. It’s a good way of ensuring the safety of your loved ones while helpful for those of us who forget to message when we arrive safely at our destination.

Health app to get mental health features

Mental health is just as important as physical health, so it’s good to see Apple expanding its Health functionality. With iOS 17, you’ll be able to log and track your moods and emotions over time. Plus, you’ll be able to link these logs with specific experiences, like associating a specific mood with an event like family gatherings or going to work. The Health app then provides you with data and trends that you can discuss further with a GP or therapist.

Of course, it’s not a substitute for professional assessment, but tracking data over time can help make healthy lifestyle choices and improve your mental health.

New Journal app helps you practice gratitude

Another iOS 17 addition is the Journal app from Apple. Countless journalling apps already exist on the App Store, but if you want to try a free one that seamlessly interacts with other apps, this might be worth a try.

You can type in notes and add images to journal your day-to-day life, which could also work in tandem with the Health app’s mental health features to keep on top of your wellbeing. What’s cool about Journal is that it provides personalised recommendations using machine learning to act as prompts. These include recent photos, places you’ve visited, workouts, and other on-device activities to help you jot down your thoughts.

iOS 17 Journal app

For the well-intentioned but forgetful types (me), you can also schedule notifications to remind you to make entries. Other nifty features include end-to-end encryption and the ability to lock the app, so anything you add is entirely private. Plus, developers can integrate journal prompts into other apps using the Journalling Suggestions API to expand Journal’s compatibility.

Autocorrect and Dictation get smarter

With iOS 17, you should see big improvements to Apple’s autocorrect function. It’ll use what Apple refers to as “a state-of-the-art on-device machine learning language model for word prediction.” In other words, fancy technology will increase autocorrect’s accuracy.

Sometimes, after a long day spent at the computer typing, the last thing you want to do is over-exert your fingers with more typing. By using Dictation, you can speak and have your device transcribe your words in real time. iOS 17 introduces a new speech recognition model designed for better accuracy.

As a recent Dictation convert, I’m keen to see how the performance changes. As it is now, it’s fairly accurate but there’s definitely room for improvement. Maybe it’s just my Aussie accent…

StandBy gives you more information while charging

You’ll soon be able to use your iPhone as a pseudo smart display while charging thanks to StandBy. You can set it up to display photos, widgets and more while resting on its side to provide more info at a glance.

StandBy also supports Live Activities and even works seamlessly with MagSafe charging devices to remember how you like the display to be set up. If you like to charge your phone on a bedside table or kitchen bench, it looks like a nice way to use your phone as something resembling a Google Nest Hub without needing an extra device.

iOS 17 features galore

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the new iPhone software features. Many of these are coming to iPadOS 17 and will have cross-device functionality, too. One example is the ability to instantly share contact details by bringing iPhones or an iPhone and an Apple Watch together.

We’ll have more information on iOS 17 ahead of its public release during the Australian spring.

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