As you may know, every September Apple releases new iPhones, and alongside it is a new version of iOS. This year it’s iOS 17. But it’s a bit more than just iOS that gets an update. iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and HomePod OS all got updates today as well. But since their software is all so similar most of the new features are the same across the board. macOS 14 Sonoma will be out on September 26.
If you were running the beta software (which I don’t recommend because it can be very dangerous) you might have been underwhelmed by the new features this year. But that’s because most of the big features are more about how your iPhone communicates with others who have also upgraded to iOS 17. So now that it’s released, you’ll slowly see more useful features.
I’ll be covering many of these new features in upcoming blog posts, but here is a list of some of the biggest features:
Siri & AI
- Activate Siri by saying “Siri” without the “hey”.
- Back-to-back Siri requests allow you to immediately ask for another request without having to say “Siri” again.
- Personal Voice allows you to create a voice that sounds like you, useful for people who are at risk of losing their voice.
- AutoCorrect is supposedly improved.
- Pet face recognition in Photos.
AirDrop & sharing
- NameDrop allows you to exchange contact information with someone just by touching your iPhones together (or Apple Watches or Apple Watch and iPhone).
- AirDrop can now be initiated by holding your iPhone near another iPhone even if they aren’t in your contacts.
- SharePlay can now be activated by holding two iPhones near each other while listening to music or watching a video
- SharePlay for CarPlay allows others in the car to control your music by scanning a QR code on the car display. Only the iPhone plugged into the car needs to have an Apple Music subscription.
- AirPlay for hotels will allow you to AirPlay content to the TV in your room by scanning a QR code. Rollout to begin at select IHG hotels soon, and other hotels may follow. It’s unclear what IHG properties will be getting it, but they own Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Kimpton, Candlewood Suites, and others.
- AirTag sharing lets multiple people see the location of an AirTag and will prevent “following” notifications.
- Check In allows you to share your location with someone temporarily until you reach your destination.
FaceTime & Calls
- FaceTime messages allow you to leave an audio or video message if the person you called doesn’t answer.
- FaceTime reactions add special effects with certain hand gestures on calls such as FaceTime and Zoom.
- Contact Posters allow you to customize the screen that appears when you call someone (presuming they are on an iPhone with iOS 17). You can choose the photo and text that appears.
- Live Voicemail works like answering machines did before everyone got voicemail. When someone calls you you can see the message typed on your screen in real time and you can pick up if you would like.
Safari, internet, & passwords
- Safari Profiles allow you to have entirely isolated copies of Safari with different cookies, favorites, histories, and extensions.
- Safari Web Apps allow you to add a website to your Dock as if it were an app on your computer.
- iCloud Keychain sharing with friends and family.
- Passkey support for third-party password managers means everyone can finally use Passkeys (an exciting new password replacement that is rolling out slowly).
- Passkey support for Apple ID means you can now sign in to your Apple account simply by pointing your iPhone camera at a QR code.
Music & audio
- Music crossfade
- Adaptive Audio for 2nd-gen AirPods Pro combines Noise Cancellation and Adaptive Audio. This allows you to clearly hear things around you that you need to hear such as conversations, announcements, and cars while blocking noise.
- Conversation Awareness for 2nd-gen AirPods Pro detects when you are talking so that the volume of your music is reduced and the voices in front of you are amplified.
- StandBy turns your iPhone into a bedside clock, a music controller, or a digital picture frame when charging horizontally.
- Interactive Widgets mean that you can tap a widget to do something without it opening the app.
- Offline Maps allows you to download a region to your device for offline navigation and search.
- Charging stations in Maps with real-time availability and charging type filters.
- One-Time Code autofill from Mail, just as we had in Messages (Safari only).
- Reminders categories automatically sorts certain lists, for example grocery list can be sorted into produce, dairy, etc.
- Interlinking for Notes allows you to create links to other notes from within a note.
- Activity History for the Home app is an optional new feature for security devices like locks, doors, and sensors.
- Passcode changes allow you to use your old passcode for 72 hours in case you forget the new code. This can be overridden when you change your passcode in an emergency.
- Assistive Access introduces a whole new extremely simplified interface.
- Multiple Timers allow you to say “Siri, start a 60-minute potato timer” and then “Siri, start a 10-minute pasta timer” on iPhone (this was long available on HomePod and Apple Watch)
- HEIF Max file format for iPhone 14 Pro allows you to capture 48-megapixel images that aren’t RAW in certain circumstances.
- Custom lock screen for iPad, just like iPhone got last year.
- Webcam support for iPad allows you to use a third-party USB webcam, useful when connected to a monitor.
Apple TV-specific features
For the past several years, tvOS has had just a handful of new features sprinkled in. This year, however, has more exciting new tvOS features than we’ve seen in years!
- Facetime on Apple TV, if you have an Apple TV 4K 2nd Gen (2021 model). You must use an iPad or iPhone as the camera. Also allows third-party apps to access the camera such as Zoom and WebEx.
- Control Center on Apple TV allows easier access to device settings such as WiFi, audio devices, and HomeKit devices.
- VPN on Apple TV once third-party apps add support.
- Find remote for the new silver remote, accessible from within Control Center on iPhone.
- Enhanced dialogue through AI processing, if you use HomePods as your audio output.
- Lots of little things such as more screensavers, the ability to use Memories as screensavers, and Dolby Vision 8.1 support.
Apple Watch-specific features
This year Apple made some pretty significant changes with watchOS 10. The biggest differences are that you now access Control Center by clicking the broad button on the side, and many of the apps have been redesigned to more closely match the iPhone.
- New Snoopy watch faces
- Cycling workouts can communicate with a compatible Bluetooth bicycle computer
- Hiking trail information
- Topo maps
- Elevation alerts
These are the big ones but there are so many other little tweaks and little features. Here is Apple’s official full list. And several features that are coming later this year such as mood tracking in Health, a journal app, collaborative playlists in Music, full iMessage settings syncing, intelligent form detection in PDFs and AirDrop transfers will continue over the internet if you don’t stay near each other.
- Mac (macOS 13 Ventura or later): Click the Apple menu > System Settings > General > Software Update.
- Mac (macOS 12 Monterey or earlier): Click the Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update. Apple Support Article HT201541
- iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch: Open the Settings app > General > Software Update. Apple Support Article HT204204
- Apple Watch: First update your iPhone, then on your iPhone tap the Watch app > General > Software Update. Apple Support Article HT204641
- Apple TV: Go to the Settings app > System > Software Update. Apple Support Article HT202716
- HomePod: Updates will install automatically. To push the update along faster see the instructions in Apple Support Article HT208247
If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.
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