iOS 17: New features, release date, beta, and more – 9to5Mac

iOS 17 was officially announced at WWDC, marking Apple’s biggest annual software update for iPhone users. This year, iOS 17 packs new features for Messages, FaceTime, and widgets. Head below for a roundup of our coverage, new features, details on betas and release dates, and more.
As of June, iOS 17 is available to developer beta testers only, but there’s a big change to the developer beta testing process this year. In previous users, iOS developer betas were only available to registered developers who paid $99/year. 
For iOS 17 this year, Apple is making betas available to anyone who signs up for a free developer account. No $99 annual subscription required. 
That being said, we recommend proceeding with caution. Apple says these are “developer” betas for a reason. The iOS 17 beta has a number of bugs, performance issues, and will have a big impact on your battery life. Just because the iOS 17 developer beta is available for free doesn’t mean you should run to install it. 
Sometime this month, however, Apple will release a public beta for iOS 17, which will still contain bugs and quirks but to a lesser degree than the developer betas.
After beta testing has wrapped up, Apple will release iOS 17 to the general public. Based on precedent, this will happen sometime in September. Here’s a rundown of previous iOS update release dates in September:
As you can see, Apple is pretty consistent with its iOS release schedules. That’s why we expect iOS 17 to follow the same pattern and be released sometime in mid-September.
Notably, iOS 17 requires the A12 Bionic chip or newer. This means that the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus – all of which were first released in 2017 – won’t get the update this year. Here’s the full rundown of iOS 17 supported devices:
With the boring stuff out of the way, let’s dive into some of the new features in iOS 17. Apple touts that the goal of iOS 17 is to make your iPhone “more personal and intuitive,” and it has a wide array of new features to accomplish this.
iOS 17 includes a new feature called “Contact Posters,” which lets you customize how your profile appears when you interact with other iPhone users. You can set up your Contact Poster to include profile photos, special typography and font colors, and much more.
For FaceTime audio and video calls, Apple has added support for voicemails for the first time. So if you call someone, you can leave a message for them to explain why you were calling. And when they call you, they can leave their own voice mail.
Also for FaceTime, Apple has added a variety of new Reactions. This includes things like hearts, balloons, fireworks, laser beams, and rain. These effects can be activated by certain gestures and are also compatible with third-party apps.
iOS 17 also packs improvements to AirDrop. For example, NameDrop is a new AirDrop feature that lets you to share your contact details with another iPhone or Apple Watch user by simply bringing your devices close to each other. Additionally, by placing two iPhones near one another, you can engage SharePlay for things like video, music, and games.
AirDrop also now supports tapping two phones together to transfer other content from one device to the other, including photos, videos, and files. Additionally, later in the year, AirDrop will introduce the ability to start transferring large files between two closely located phones, with the completion of the transfer happening via iCloud.
The Music app has been revamped with support for collaborative playlists and cross-fade (at long last). In CarPlay, the Music app now includes SharePlay support to let anyone in your car have a say in what’s currently playing (if you’re brave enough to allow such a thing).
Another tentpole change in iOS 17 is a major revamp of autocorrect, which Apple says will finally let you say what you “ducking” want to say. Powered by machine learning, the new autocorrect system learns from the way you type, makes it easier to correct mistakes, and even auto-fills your words and sentences as you’re typing. Dictation has also been upgraded with a new speech recognition model “to make it even more accurate,” Apple says.
StandBy is one of the most notable changes for iPhone users this year. When you place your iPhone horizontally on a charger, it will show a new custom smart display style interface with glanceable widgets for things like the time, calendar, alarms, and more.
For fans of Home Screen widgets, iOS 17 includes a big update with support for interactive widgets. This means you can now interact directly with widgets themselves, rather than having to be taken directly to the app itself. For example, you can interact with play and pause controls for the Music app widget right on your iPhone’s Home Screen. In conjunction with this, Apple has also added Home app widgets for the first time as well.
iOS 17 includes a number of Accessibility upgrades, such as Assistive Access. This is a new customizable interface that makes it easier for users with cognitive disabilities to use their iPhone. Personal Voice gives users at risk of speech loss, such as those with ALS, the ability to create a voice that sounds like theirs. Live Speech is a new feature that offers nonspeaking users the option to type and have their words spoken in person, in phone calls, or in FaceTime calls.
The Messages app in iOS 17 is also getting a major boost with new features for stickers, reactions, and more.
Apple’s robust set of features of managing two-factor authentication codes is also getting an upgrade with iOS 17. This year, two-factor codes that are sent to Mail will also now support auto-fill. The Messages app will also now automatically delete 2FA text messages.
Combining the features of Messages and Find My is a new feature called Check In, which Apple says is an “important feature for when a user wants to notify a family member or friend that they have made it to their destination safely.” When Check In is initiated, your friend or family member will automatically be notified when you arrive at your destination. If you’re not making progress to that destination, iOS 17 will share information such as your location, battery level, and cell service status with the other person.
Live Voicemail in iOS 17 lets you see the real-time transcription as someone leaves a voicemail, including the ability to pick up the call while the person is leaving their message. Calls identified as spam by carriers won’t appear as Live Voicemail, and will instead be instantly declined.
iOS 17 will also include a brand new Journal app later this year. Using the Journal app, Apple says that iPhone users will have a new way to “appreciate life and preserve memories.” The Journal app in iOS 17 will use machine learning to create suggestions of moments that you might want to remember. The app will prompt you to journal based on things like photos, music, workouts, and more.
Here’s a rundown of even more changes in iOS 17 for iPhone users this year:
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Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.
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