iOS 17 announced: everything we know so far

As predicted, Apple used WWDC 2023 – its annual developer conference – to showcase new hardware and software across Mac and macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS  and even augmented reality, with the debut of its Vision Pro headset.

If you’re here, it’s probably because you’re curious about the slew of new features Apple showcased as part of iOS 17, set to me making its way to the best iPhones later this year, in September.

While Apple is undoubtedly keeping a few tidbit up its sleeve closer to launch, it did share a wealth of new information on June 5, confirming the name but also key features like StandBy and Check In, as well as making it available to developers and early adopters in a beta form.

iOS 17: Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next big update for iOS – the iPhone’s operating system
  • When does it come out? Unveiled in June, expected to drop mid-September
  • How much does it cost? It’ll be a free upgrade
  • Which phones are supported? iPhone 8 and newer

iOS 17 release date

iOS 17 is expected to be released on or around the middle of September, to coincide with the expected iPhone 15 launch. Before that, Apple first officially unveiled iOS 17 on June 5, as part of its annual developer conference, WWDC 2023.

Directly after WWDC, Apple did release a sign-up page for developers (and early adopters) interested in gaining access to the developer preview builds of iOS 17, ahead of the public beta and final release (the public beta usually arrives around a month or two after the developer previews start rolling out).

Check out our ‘How to download the iOS 17 beta on your iPhone’ explainer for the full process, if you’re keep to try out the pre-release build.

iOS 17 availability

Someone holding the iPhone X

Contrary to initial concerns, the likes of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X will be supported by iOS 17 (Image credit: Future)

We’d heard conflicting reports surrounding the availability of iOS 17 ahead of its formal unveiling, so it’s great that we now finally have the answers we were waiting for.

One MacRumors source “with a proven track record,” had stated (ahead of WWDC) that iOS 17 would drop support for the iPhone 8iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. However, the iOS 17 preview page thankfully paints a different picture, with every iPhone running back to 2017’s iPhone 8 and iPhone X still supported.

Apple routinely drops support for older devices with every new edition of iOS and iPadOS – the iPhone 6siPhone 7 and iPad Air 2 were among the models left behind by iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, for instance – and both the iPhone X and iPhone 8 are now five years old, which is usually grounds for the chopping block, so their persistence on iOS 17’s register will likely bring a sigh of relief to a fair few users of these older models.

Incidentally, if your iPhone does qualify for Apple’s next big update, it’ll likely download iOS 17 automatically. iOS 16.4 introduced a code that makes iPhone  updates download by default, with Apple evidently hoping that the change will ensure that most people are running the latest version of iOS.

iOS 17 confirmed features

iOS 17’s debut at WWDC 2023 gave us an in-depth look at a ton of features coming to the next major iPhone software release and there’s more to it than we first expected.

Here’s a rundown of all the additions confirmed by Apple so far and what aspect of the iOS experience they relate to:

  • Contact Posters (Phone)
  • Live Voicemail (Phone)
  • Unified apps menu (Messages)
  • Check In (Messages)
  • Catch-up (Messages)
  • In-line replies (Messages)
  • Search filters (Messages)
  • Inline location (Messages)
  • Audio message transcription (Messages)
  • Stickers Drawer (Messages / third-party apps)
  • Live Stickers (Messages / third-party apps)
  • Leave a video message (FaceTime)
  • Gesture-activated AR effects (FaceTime)
  • FaceTime on Apple TV (FaceTime)
  • StandBy (iPhones w/ Always-On displays)
  • Interactive widgets (home screen / lock screen / StandBy)
  • NameDrop (AirDrop)
  • Proximity-based sharing (AirDrop)
  • Over-internet transfers (AirDrop)
  • Proximity-based SharePlay (AirDrop)
  • Journal (iOS general)
  • Improved autocorrect (Keyboard)
  • Work & personal profiles (Safari)
  • Faster search (Safari)
  • Enhanced Private Browsing (Safari)
  • Autofill verification codes via Mail (Mail / Safari)
  • Password sharing w/ trusted contacts (iOS general)
  • Collaborative playlists (Music)
  • Smart device suggestions (AirPlay)
  • AirPlay in your hotel room (AirPlay)
  • Adaptive Audio (AirPods Pro 2nd generation)
  • Press to mute / unmute (AirPods Pro 2nd generation)
  • Improved Automatic Switching (AirPods Pro 2nd generation)
  • Offline maps (Maps)
  • Enhanced EV routing (Maps)
  • “Siri”-only wake word (Siri)
  • Back-to-back requests (Siri)
  • App Shortcuts in Top Hit (Spotlight)
  • Visual search results (Spotlight)
  • Enhanced Visual Look Up (Photos)
  • Mental health check-in (Health)
  • Vision health check-in (Health)
  • Communication Safety (Messages / AirDrop / FaceTime / Phone / third-party apps)
  • Sensitive Content Warning (Messages / AirDrop / FaceTime / Phone / third-party apps)
  • Grocery list auto-sort (Reminders)
  • View and mark-up PDFs (Notes)
  • Enhanced AutoFill (PDFs)
  • Activity History (Home)
  • Cat & dog recognition (Photos)
  • New drawing tools (Freeform)

iOS 17 rumored features

Developer editing iPhone lock screen on laptop

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Konstantin Savusia)

For everything we do know, there are still some question marks around aspects of iOS 17 – both visual and functional – that Apple is yet to answer.

One Weibo user hinted at a series of cosmetic changes for the the iPhone lock screen, Control Center, App Library and Apple Music.

iPhone lock screen on orange background

(Image credit: Future )

Specifically, the Weibo user in question reports that iOS 17 will let you customize lock screen font sizes, as well as share your custom lock screen designs with other iPhone users – presumably in the same way that Apple Watch faces can be shared between Apple Watch owners. Following WWDC, this could be Contact Posters they were inadvertently referring to, but lock screen sharing may still be on the cards in its own right.

As for the Control Center, iOS 17 is expected to bring major UI changes to the helpful shortcut page, while custom categories and other organizational features are reportedly bound for your iPhone’s App Library.

Improvements on the agenda for Apple Music with iOS 17 include the ability to view song lyrics directly on your phone’s lock screen, with Apple also set to place emphasis on reducing the amount of text in the Apple Music app, in favor of new images and graphics.

In fact, we’ve heard talk of multiple app redesigns that might grant certain native apps on iOS 17 a distinctly different look to what you might currently be familiar with.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman stated in a newsletter entry that he expects Apple to add app sideloading to iOS 17. This move would come as a result of EU regulations which were adopted in 2022 with a compliance deadline for tech companies by March 2024. To quickly summarise, the regulations require platform owners like Apple to open up app installations to third-party app stores and websites. As with USB-C, Apple had no choice but to adopt. However, app sideloading on iPhone might only apply in Europe.

As for other rumored iOS 17 features, they’ve all been in line with what Gurman’s reported – though they haven’t come from sources are reliable as him. One of the more recent leaks comes from Twitter user analyst941, who claims that “performance, efficiency, stability, and long-term support for older devices are the main features of [the] update.”

According to the analyst941, the new features in development are as follows (we’ve marked which ones are partially or fully confirmed following WWDC in parentheses):

  • Additional settings for the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always-On Display* (could be in StandBy, announced at WWDC)
  • Additional filters for Focus modes
  • “Changes and additional options” for managing notifications
  • Custom Accessibility Mode
  • Car Key “improvements” and “more car implementations into the Wallet app”
  • UI changes to the Health app, including changes to the “Favorites” interface
  • “Heavily improved” features for Search and Spotlight* (confirmed at WWDC)
  • “An absolute behemoth of ARKit API’s/frameworks”
  • “The Dynamic Island will do a lot more”
  • “Camera app changes; these were initially planned for the iPhone 14 Pro release, and MAY only be implemented into iPhone 15’s OS, rather than all iOS 17 devices”
  • “Active widgets” that will “bring one-tap buttons, sliders, and more” to help make widgets more “dynamic”* (confirmed at WWDC)

Despite the long list above, these changes do seem to be more superficial than substantial, corroborating Gurman’s aforementioned comments regarding the lack of “tentpole improvement[s]” set to be brought about by iOS 17.


(Image credit: Unsplash [Omid Armin])

We’ve heard some specifics regarding the updates set to come to Siri, too. analyst941 reports that iOS 17 could shift Siri’s on-screen interface away from the bottom of the iPhone screen and up into the Dynamic Island on compatible devices.

In its current form, Siri appears as an animated sphere when invoked with a button press or the “Hey Siri” command, while answers to user queries are displayed at the top of the iPhone screen with background content dimmed. Presumably, moving Siri’s interface up into the Dynamic Island would make the voice assistant appear less intrusive.

For obvious reasons, this change will only apply to iPhones that feature the Dynamic Island – which, at present, is the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max (aka the best iPhones money can buy). However, we’re almost certain that Apple’s quirky digital notch will be finding its way onto every device in this year’s iPhone 15 lineup, so we could see Siri moving home on the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and much-rumored iPhone 15 Ultra, too.

In more specific rumors, we’ve heard that changes to Apple’s Wallet and Health apps are on the way with iOS 17, and that the built-in wallpaper picker is getting a revamp, too. See below for mockups of what some of those changes might look like.

See more

iOS 17 wishlist

1. Super Siri

Close-up of the Siri interface

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Tada Images)

ChatGPT is taking the world by storm, and Google and Microsoft have been quick to react. Apple set the world on fire with the launch of Siri, alongside the iPhone 4S, but the digital assistant still has yet to reach its full potential. As generative AI models grow in popularity, the large and very engaged iPhone user base would give Apple an advantage over its competitors, if it launched its own GPT-powered chatbot.

If those aforementioned Siri rumors are anything to go by, Siri will be getting a sizeable upgrade with iOS 17 – but we’re hoping to see more than just aesthetic changes come to Apple’s personal assistant. 

2. Improved notifications

iOS 15 public beta

(Image credit: Future)

This particular wish comes as standard – and goes ungranted – with every Apple update. The company has worked to slightly tweak iOS notifications every year, but they’re still horribly mediocre. There’s limited notification bundling or quick-reply support, and actionable notifications are still few and far between compared to Android.

Every year, we hope that Apple will bring Notification Center up to par – and every year Apple does the equivalent of placing a smiley band-aid on a gaping wound. Sometimes, Apple likes to do things its own way, and that’s fine; in this case, however, it’s time for the company to swallow its pride and do the done thing.

3. RCS support 

An iPhone showing a Message

(Image credit: Apple)

RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is gaining popularity on Android phones. It essentially turns basic SMS messaging into the equivalent of more modern apps, like iMessage or Facebook Messenger. Now, it’s not necessary for Apple to make RCS work on iPhones, but it would be better than the plain old SMS we currently have.

You can see when someone’s typing, get read receipts, send larger files and more. It’s an emerging standard – much like USB-C – and in countries where texting via the Messages app is more common than something like WhatsApp or Telegram, there’s no downside to upgrading the Messages experience for everyone, as iOS users who prefer not to enable iMessage for one reason or another will also to make use of RCS’ additional functionality without compromise. 

4. Richer audio functionality for AirPods

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 headphones on a grey background

AirPods Pro 2 (Image credit: Apple)

As detailed in his opinion piece on the subject TechRadar’s lead entertainment editor, Matt Bolton, spoke about the potential of adding new functionality to AirPods as part of the upgrade to iOS 17.

Things like universal EQ adjustment, customizable ANC profiles, adjustable transparency mode and more all feature on his hit list, and frankly, they all sound like brilliant additions that we don’t imagine would be all that challenging for Apple to implement.