Apple recently released the first public beta of iOS 17, designed to be stable enough for regular users. Anticipating the final version this fall, Apple plans to release betas throughout the summer to iron out bugs and gather user data.
The new version offers several enhancements and new features, while maintaining a familiar user experience to iOS 16. Particular highlights include improvements to Messages, the new StandBy mode, upgrades to Maps, widgets, and dictation.
In Messages, the search feature has been completely reworked, providing a more user-friendly experience. iOS 17 also improves audio messages, allowing users to listen while using other apps, or view a transcription of the message. Additional features borrowed from WhatsApp include the ability to swipe on a bubble to reply to a specific message.
The new StandBy feature introduces full-screen widgets when the iPhone is turned sideways while charging. It works especially well with a MagSafe-enabled dock. There are three different StandBy screens: one showing home screen widgets, another showcasing a photo album, and the final one displaying a customizable alarm clock.
Widgets receive an update too — they're now more interactive, enabling tasks such as completing to-dos and playing or pausing songs. Apple Maps has also finally incorporated offline maps, a long-awaited feature that's been present in Google Maps for years.
Other new features in iOS 17 include the ability to create contact posters and share them, transcription of voicemails, location-sharing in Messages, the ability to share passwords with iCloud Passwords, and improvements to autocorrect and dictation. Notably, "Hey, Siri" has been shortened to just "Siri."
iOS 17 promises to be a valuable upgrade to iOS 16, with numerous improvements and new features enhancing the user experience.