Apple's iOS 17 adds Live Voicemail, StandBy and a Journal app

You'll also find improved sharing and a smarter Siri.


Apple has introduced iOS 17, and some of its most important changes revolve around fundamental apps. Incoming calls can now include custom posters for certain contacts, and you'll get Google-style live transcripts for voicemail. Messages, meanwhile, offers easier replies, audio message transcripts and a "check in" that automatically lets people know if you've arrived or are delayed. FaceTime lets you leave messages. There's a revamped sticker interface that lets you turn photo subjects and emojis into stickers, add effects and even add stickers to third-party apps.

Siri is now somewhat smarter. You can just say "Siri" to invoke a command, and the voice assistant will take back-to-back commands without requiring that you say the keyword each time. This isn't a novel concept if you've used Google Assistant, but it's appreciated if you want to ask follow-up questions or perform multiple tasks in quick succession.

Sharing is easier, too. NameDrop lets you share contact details just by bringing your iPhone close to someone else's device. You can share photos that way, and leave AirDrop transferring content even when you have to step away. A developer framework will expand access to sharing in other apps. You can also start an AirPlay session using Siri as well, and the feature now works with supported TVs in hotels. IHG Hotels & Resorts will be the first to offer that streaming by the end of the year.

Even typing is better. New AI modelling improves keyboard autocorrection, and you'll see in-line predictions for what you're writing. Sentence-level correction can fix grammatical mistakes. If there's an unfamiliar word, iOS 17 will recognize it over time. Voice dictation is more accurate.

And yes, rumors of a life journaling app are true. The new Journal app lets document how you're feeling, complete with suggestions for writing prompts based on activities like trips, workouts and photos. Developers can tap into these suggestions for their own apps. Mood tracking in Health can help you share mental health concerns with your doctor. And if your child has an iPhone, Screen Distance in Screen Time uses recent iPhones' depth-sensing front camera to warn when their eyes are too close to the display.

You can also turn your iPhone into a makeshift smart display with StandBy. Put your phone on its side and you'll get automatically surfacing info through widgets, such as calendar info, music and sports scores. It even automatically adjusts to nighttime with a face that won't hurt your eyes. The feature will remember your preferred view if you charge with MagSafe, and iPhone 14 Pro owners can see it at any time using the always-on display.

Some updates are smaller but still noteworthy. Safari now has more advanced tracking protection in Private Browsing, and locks when not in use. Maps now has offline data to help you navigate when away from a cell signal. AirPods now support Adaptive Audio that tunes noise cancellation and transparency based on your environment. You can share AirTags, and Music now has collaborative playlists. You can share AirTags with up to five other people, and share secure passwords and passkeys with a group of trusted contacts.

The iOS 17 developer preview is available today, with a public beta coming in July. The software will officially debut this fall.

Follow all of the news from Apple's WWDC 2023 right here.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.