The latest operating system for iPhone, iOS 17, was released back in September and has now received a few updates to improve performance and fix the bugs that were present in the initial release. If you have not upgraded your iPhone to iOS 17 yet, I think that now is a good time to do so.

Here are some of my favorite new features in iOS 17 that I think people will find most useful:

Live VoiceMail: With this new feature, you can see a real-time transcription of the message that someone is leaving you in your Voicemail as they are speaking it. So, if for example, you chose not to pick up a call because you didn’t recognize the number, you could still choose to pick up the call as the message is being left by the caller. Probably not something that most people will use often, but it could be quite useful in certain situations. I use a spam filter on my iPhone, but unfortunately, I find that it is often wrong, so this is a great feature for me personally. 

NameDrop: AirDrop has been around for quite some time and it’s a great way to share files such as photos and videos easily between Apple devices. This latest addition to AirDrop, NameDrop, allows you to quickly swap phone numbers, email addresses and contact posters by simply holding your iPhone near someone’s else iPhone. It also works with the Apple Watch 7 or newer.

image showing how to use the namedrop feature

Improved auto-correct and predictive text, no longer sanitized: Another feature that has long been asked for by iPhone users is improved auto-correct. Namely, the ability to use more colorful language in text messages without the need to constantly go back and fix the “ducking” auto-correct. Apple is using new learning algorithms in its predictive text feature, and is better able to anticipate which words and sentences you are most likely to type in your messages. It is now just better at learning from your previous typing history, which should lead to more seamless typing over time. With the new predictive text features, it can predict not only words, but also a few words at a time, in order to save you extra typing. As you are typing, you will see inline text predictions appear in a slightly lighter shade of grey, and all you have to do is press the Spacebar in order to accept the text to be filled in for you. 
This is something I imagine will just keep getting better over time as Apple rolls out software updates every couple of months. And again, the more you use it, the more accurate it gets.

Standby Mode: This new feature allows you to see various display options when your iPhone is recharging and laying up on its side, in a landscape position. Once the phone is on Standby mode, you can access various screens and different options by swiping on the screen vertically or horizontally. You can view screen displays such as an oversized clock, various widgets, or photos from your library. Overall this is a pretty cool feature that you should experiment with to find out which Standby Mode is your favorite. It does not require a special charger in order to work. It works with any kind of charger, as long as the iPhone is in an horizontal position, or landscape mode.

images of standby mode

Contact Posters: With this new feature you can really customize what people see on their iPhone when they call you, or you call them. You can set a big full-screen image of yourself, or a completely different graphic or image if you wish. Such as a family picture, your pets, or an avatar.

Changes in the Messages app: The Messages app has been redesigned quite a bit, and the way that you now access things like the Camera, Apple Cash, Audio messages and other items is different. Previously, you had a little camera icon and an App icon located next to the text message field. Now, you simply have a + sign located next to the messages field, and when you click on that + sign, you’ll gain access to all the apps that you can use in conjunction with messages. Now, when you click on the + sign, you’ll see six Apple options for content that you can add or use in your text messages: Camera, Photos, Stickers, Apple Cash, Audio and Location. Then you’ll see the More button which allows you to access other Apple apps, as well as 3rd party apps that you may have installed on your iPhone. Apps like Venmo, ESPN, Google maps and many others are available to use directly in Messages to send payments, share sports scores or share your location.

Stickers: Stickers and Live Stickers allow you to turn people or things from your photo library into a sticker that can then be saved in a sticker library, which you can then use as many times as you want in the future. You can make stickers from any photos your Photos library, even if they are just images you downloaded from the internet. Once you have chosen an image in your Photos library, you can press and hold on a subject, which will highlight it, and save it to your Stickers drawer. You can then use those stickers in a variety of apps, pretty much anywhere you can use emojis. Such as inside emails, in the notes app, in a spreadsheet and so on.

Interactive Widgets: Widgets have been available on iPhone for some time, but now you can do more with them. In this latest update, widgets are now interactive, meaning that you can take action directly from the widgets instead of having to switch to an app to get something done. For example, you may have a to-do list in the Notes app, and now you can check items off as done right in the Widgets app instead of having to switch over to the Notes app to do it there. Or control the lights in your living room directly from a widget. It’s a nice little time-saving feature.

FaceTime video and audio messages : With iOS 17 you now have the ability to leave a video or audio message if someone does not pick up your FaceTime video or audio call. Previously, if you attempted to reach someone through FaceTime and they didn’t pick up, that was it, your only option was to end the call attempt. But now, you can leave the person you were trying to reach a video or audio message that they can view or listen to when they have time. It’s a great way to not lose a moment if you were calling someone via FaceTime to share an exciting event or to record a video of yourself with someone they know for example.

Workout plans in Apple Fitness +: If you are a Fitness + subscriber, you now have the ability to create custom workout plans inside the app. You can choose which type of exercise is included in your plan, how long the workouts should be, how many days per week, and for how many weeks the plan should last. The plan then rotates a variety of workouts for you to finish weekly based on your choices. You can easily modify your workouts if you don’t like what it has chosen for you on a specific day, so it really is quite flexible. I think it’s a really nice addition on the Fitness app.

Set Multiple Timers: This is a feature that has been requested for quite some time, and it’s finally here. The ability to have more than one timer going at a time. This has been available on other smart phones for years, and Apple has finally decided to include it with iOS 17. It seems like such a simple thing, but we’ve had to wait. You can now have a timer for something in the oven, AND a timer to remind you to take the clothes out of the washer … at the same time. You can also label these timers with names such as meditation or workout, and then reuse them in the future.

Ping my Watch: If you can’t find your Apple Watch but think it is nearby, you now have a quick and easy way to make it ping, right from your iPhone inside of control center. The Ping my Watch icon in not in Control Center by default, and has to be manually added though. You can do that by opening Settings > Control Center, and then looking for the Ping my Watch icon and clicking on the + sign. That will add it to Control Center for easy access.

Auto-delete 2FA codes: As more and more websites and apps keep pushing users towards using 2 Factor Authentication, you will frequently need to receive codes sent to your phone or to your email. While this is great for security, it also means that you are most likely receiving a whole lot of text messages with these codes. And those messages can clutter up your messages inbox after some time. With this feature turned on, your iPhone is supposed to auto-delete those text messages containing those codes. But for me at least, this doesn’t seem to be working very well yet. Hopefully, this is something that Apple fixes over time for most users.

These are just some of my favorites, and while none of these are ground-breaking by any means, they’re just nice little additions to what is already a very good experience on an iPhone. There are plenty of other small changes and tweaks included in this update, and there are also things that will be included in future updates, such as a new journal app.
For a full list of everything that has changed, you can check out the Apple page here for more information: https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-17/