iOS 17 launches today: 7 TOP features we can’t wait to try

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You don’t need to rush out and buy the latest iPhone 15 this week for a dose of iPhone-inspired excitement. Today, on September 18, iOS 17 is finally making its debut, and it comes packed with some significant improvements that I can’t wait to explore on my trusty older iPhone.

Wondering when you can expect to see that enticing update icon in your Software Update menu? Apple typically rolls out its major iOS updates at 10 am PT / 1 pm EDT / 6 pm BST. If you happen to be in Australia, that translates to around 3 am AEST on Tuesday, September 19.

Back in June at WWDC 2023, iOS 17 was initially announced, and if you haven’t been riding the beta wave, it’s easy to lose track of the exciting features unveiled. No worries—I’ve gathered a list of the features I’m eagerly anticipating as the operating system receives its official release today.

Regrettably, the highly anticipated Journal app won’t be available until “later this year,” and certain iOS 17 features are tailored to specific accessories (such as adaptive audio for AirPods Pro 2). Nevertheless, here are the key features I’m most excited to explore later today when iOS 17 lands on my iPhone:

1. Interactive Widgets
Home screen widgets are about to become far more functional with iOS 17. They’ll be interactive, working seamlessly across the Lock Screen and the new StandBy view. According to Apple, these interactions will allow you to check off tasks, control music playback, or manage your smart home devices, among other handy functions. This is something Android users have enjoyed for a while, but I’m thrilled to have it on my iPhone now.

Until now, I’ve found widgets more useful on iPads, but their new interactive versions are likely to claim a more prominent spot on my home screen.

2. Stand By Mode
This new mode transforms your iPhone into a miniature smart display or clock when it’s charging on its side. While I currently lack a stand like the Twelve South Forté, which could enhance my StandBy experience, I’m open to giving it a try if it proves as useful as it appears.

Beyond serving as a glorified alarm clock, StandBy seamlessly integrates with iOS 17’s new interactive widgets (mentioned earlier) to deliver at-a-glance information like the latest news headlines and weather updates. While its capabilities might seem limited initially (as not all widgets are supported), Stand By could become the sleeper hit of iOS 17.

3. Enhanced Auto correct
It might not be the flashiest feature in iOS 17, but the improved autocorrect could be one of the most practical. This update is reportedly based on a transformer language model (similar to the one used in ChatGPT), enabling it to swiftly rectify typing errors.

The new auto correct may also reduce the need for excessive tapping. Similar to Gmail, it offers predictive suggestions that allow you to select phrases and sentences with a simple tap of the space bar.

4. FaceTime on Apple TV
Siri may still feel a bit dated, but iOS 17 brings some much-needed enhancements to Apple’s voice assistant. One notable improvement is the ability to simply say ‘Siri’ instead of ‘hey, Siri’ as the wake word. While this might not be a game-changer for me (I usually rely on the side button), what I’m really looking forward to is the ability to issue multiple follow-up commands without repeating ‘Siri.’ It feels like conversational voice assistants should have reached this point by now, and this is a step in the right direction.

6. Offline Apple Maps
Although I’m a dedicated Google Maps user, Apple Maps has been making strides lately, and I might give it another chance thanks to the introduction of offline maps with iOS 17. Google Maps has offered this feature for years, and it’s essential when venturing into areas with spotty mobile signal—something I frequently encounter in most parts of the UK outside London.

Similar to Google’s feature, you’ll be able to download specific map areas in advance, access turn-by-turn directions, and locate that elusive restaurant even without Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity. If you own an electric vehicle, Apple Maps is also adding real-time charging station availability to help you along your route.

7. NameDrop
I’m still on the fence about Contact Posters, another new feature in iOS 17 that allows you to create personalized posters for your phone calls. However, NameDrop seems genuinely useful and is something I might actually use in lieu of traditional business cards.

As long as you have AirDrop enabled, NameDrop allows you to share your contact details by simply holding your phone near someone else’s iPhone. This should trigger the appearance of your contact card, enabling you to exchange email addresses or phone numbers.

I use ‘should’ because this is AirDrop we’re talking about, and in my experience, it has been somewhat finicky. Hopefully, it lives up to Apple’s promises, or there may be some awkward moments.

For a comprehensive list of iOS 17 features, here they are:

List of iOS 17 features

In conclusion, iOS 17 brings a host of exciting features and improvements that are sure to enhance the iPhone experience. From interactive widgets to enhanced autocorrect, and even FaceTime on Apple TV, there’s plenty to look forward to in this update. So, keep an eye on your Software Update menu and get ready to explore all that iOS 17 has to offer.

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