iOS 17 brings live voicemail, better AirDrop, and a smart display mode to iPhone

iOS 17
Pictured: iPhone 14 Pro running iOS 17
//iOS 17 is expected to launch in September with a public beta next month
Alex Choros
Jun 06, 2023
Icon Time To Read3 min read

Published on June 05, 2023

Apple just announced the next version of the iPhone operating system - iOS 17. The update is fairly modest, mostly focusing on improved communication functionality across the Phone app, Messages, and AirDrop. iOS 17 does add two big new features however: a journaling app, and a standby mode that effectively turns your iPhone into a smart display when it's not being used.

We're expecting to see iOS 17 launch in September alongside new iPhones. A public beta will be available next month, and the developer beta is dropping today.

In the meantime, here's a more detailed look at what's new.

Live voicemail and custom posters in the Phone app

iOS 17 is adding live voicemail to the phone app. If you don't pick up a call, you'll see a live transcript of a voicemail while still having the option to answer. This seems like a great way to ignore scams and spam coming from unknown numbers.

iOS 17 also lets you build your own contact poster - a similar experience to customising your lock screen - and this will then appear when you call someone. You'll see other people's contact posters when they call you. Contact posters will also appear in third-party calling apps.

Lastly on the calling front, if you FaceTime someone and they don't pick up, you'll be able to leave a video message.

Better group chat and safety features in Messages

The Messages is getting a whole lot of new functionality in iOS 17. These include search filters to make it easier to look through existing messages, easier in-line replies, transcripts for audio messages so you don't need to listen to them straight away, catch-up functionality that jumps you to where you left off in group chats, and a new stickers experience.

There's also a new feature called Check In, designed to let a contact know when you make it a destination. If you're not making progress toward the destination and your given arrival time, Check In will ask if you want to let your contact know. If you don't end up checking in, Check In lets your contact see your route, mobile signal, and iPhone battery.

AirDrop gets even more seamless

iOS 17 features a revamped AirDrop experience where you'll be able to share photos and videos just by bringing two iPhones close together. When sharing large amounts of files and videos, you'll be able to start the transfer using AirDrop and then finish it via the internet if you leave AirDrop range.

There's also a new part of AirDrop called NameDrop, used specifically for exchanging contact information. This will show your Contact Poster, and let you pick exactly what details you want to exchange.

An all-new Journal app

iOS 17 includes a new app called Journal, designed for, well journalling. Journal will give you suggestions based on what you've done on your phone. For example, if you've gone on a trip, it will pull photos, maps, and what you listened to and give you writing prompts based on them.

You can schedule notifications to remind you to write or when new suggestions are available, and developers will be able to make Journal pull suggestions from their own apps.

StandBy turns your iPhone into a smart display

Putting your iPhone on its side while locked and charging will effectively make it a smart display. It can display photos, calendars, smart home controls, as well as other widgets. These will display intelligently - like if you have a meeting coming up. Siri will naturally still work in StandBy mode.

If you're using StandBy at night, it will swap to a red and black colour scheme that isn't meant to interfere with sleep.

StandBy will work best on iPhone 14 Pro thanks to the always-on display, but can be activated with a tap on other iPhones.

Everything else

iOS 17 has plenty of other news features:

  • You no longer need to say "Hey Siri", you can just say "Siri". Siri can also be used for consecutive requests without needing to be triggered again.
  • The Photos app can recognise the specific cats and dogs in your photo
  • More accurate autocorrect and dictation powered by new language models
  • Your iPhone can now locate your Siri Remote if you can't find it
    Support for offline maps in Apple's Maps app
  • AirTags can be shared with up to five other people, so they can also keep track of certain items
  • The Health app can be used to log your mood and access depression and anxiety assessments. It can also track screen distance and tell you if you're holding your iPhone too close - at least on devices with a TrueDepth camera
  • You'll finally be able to set multiple timers

This story originally appeared on our sister website WhistleOut Australia

Alex Choros
Written by
Alex Choros
Alex Choros is the Group Reviews Editor for Clearlink Australia's local websites - Reviews.org, Safewise, and WhistleOut - and the Managing Editor for WhistleOut Australia. He's been writing about consumer technology for over eight years and is an expert on the Australian telco sector, to the point where he knows far too many phone and internet plans by heart. He also contributes to Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and makes regular appearances on 2GB. Outside of tech, Alex loves long hikes, red wine, and death metal.

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