Apple releases a major software update for its iPhones on a yearly basis that brings with it a range of new features, many of which are not only compatible with the newest iPhones, but older models too. While there are incremental software updates throughout the year, some of which bring some key improvements and occasionally additional features, it's the yearly update that brings the most change and can make an old iPhone feel like a brand new one.
The newest major software update is called iOS 17. This is everything you need to know about it, including what features have come to iPhone with it and which iPhones are compatible now that it is available to download.
iOS 17 release date
- 5 June 2023: iOS 17 announced at WWDC
- July 2023: Public betas of iOS 17 available
- 18 September 2023: Final version of iOS 17 released
Apple announced iOS 17 during its Worldwide Developer Conference, otherwise known as WWDC, on 5 June 2023, alongside revealing what is coming for Apple Watch with watchOS 10, iPad with iPadOS 17 and Mac with macOS 14.
The company made the public beta of iOS 17 available in July 2023 and the final public build of the software was then made available to download and install on all compatible iPhones from 18 September.
iOS 17 features
There are several features that arrive on iPhone with iOS 17. We've detailed the key ones below to give you an idea of what you can expect from the software when you've downloaded it and installed it. You can also read our hidden iOS 17 tricks feature for a deep dive into what you should try straight after your iPhone is updated.
A number of changes have come to AirPods with iOS 17 including something called Adaptive Audio for AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) - both Lighting and USB-C models - that blends Transparency mode and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) mode to adapt to your surroundings and changing environments. There is also a Conversation Awareness mode that's excellent in use and a Personalised Volume feature - though again, these two are only compatible with AirPods Pro 2nd Generation models.
For other AirPods models, Automatic Switching has also been updated to make switching between Apple devices more seamless, and there is now a way to mute yourself with a tap on AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generation), AirPods (3rd generation) and AirPods Max.
Some big changes have arrived for AirDrop with iOS 17 including the ability to simply hold your iPhone alongside another iPhone to initiate file transfer through AirDrop. The software update allows you to be able to continue transfers over the internet too, allowing you to walk away once an AirDrop transfer has started. You'll can also initiate a SharePlay session by just holding two iPhones side-by-side.
Arguably, one of our favourite features of iOS 17 is NameDrop. It's designed to be an easier way to share contact details with someone you have just met. Hold your iPhone next to another iPhone or Apple Watch and you can choose the specific phone numbers or email addresses you want to share.
Personalised Contact Posters
Several improvements have also arrived to the Phone app with iOS 17, including something called Personalised Contact Posters, which allows you to create a specific image with typography that appears on the devices of people you call. You can use a photo of yourself or create an Memoji if you prefer and you can also choose specific background colours and fonts for the typography you choose. It forms part of your Contact Card so it will appear on any iPhone you call.
Live Voicemail will transcribe a voicemail in real time in iOS 17 so you can decide if you want to answer the call or not, with the option still there whilst they are still on the line. If you have Silence Unknown Callers turned on, unknown numbers go directly to Live Voicemail without ringing you first, while spam callers won't get Live Voicemail, instead they will be automatically declined.
The FaceTime updates with iOS 17 include the option to leave a message. It can be an audio or video message. FaceTime also arrives on Apple TV with iOS 17 and you can hand off between your iPhone and your Apple TV. You can also use gestures to fill the camera frame with a 3D augmented reality effect, like fireworks when you do a double thumbs up.
Messages gets a number of updates with iOS 17, including the ability of swiping to reply - something you can do in WhatsApp. Search also expands for iOS 17 with search filters, allowing you to find particular messages faster.
Elsewhere in messages, audio messages are transcribed so you can read them in the moment rather than have to find somewhere quiet to listen to them if you don't have headphones.
There's a feature called Check In in iOS 17 that will automatically notify your friends or family when you arrive at your destination, like home. If you stop making progress along the way, the feature will check in with you and if you don't respond, it will share helpful information with your friend, like your location and battery.
There's a new sticker drawer in iOS 17 that allows you to access animoji, memoji and stickers in one place. They sync with iCloud so they are available across all your Apple devices and you can also use your own photos to create Live Stickers. The sticker drawer is available in the emoji keyboard so you can access them anywhere you can access emojis, including third party apps.
Perhaps the biggest visual change to iPhone with iOS 17 is a new Standby mode that activates when your iPhone is locked and in landscape mode. The smart-display mode details important information like upcoming calendar appointments, notifications and other bits of information. It works with Smart Stacks so you will get time-relevant information appear. Live Activities also appear in full screen when in StandBy mode for example, and Siri results will appear at a glace too in full screen, like the weather. There are a number of ways to customise StandBy mode, and we also have a feature on how to turn notification previews off too that you might want to read. We also highly recommend this Belkin charging stand for this feature if you don't have a stand yet.
Widgets are interactive in iOS 17, allowing you to do things faster from your home screen, lock screen or StandBy. For example, you can complete a To-Do, access Home controls or pause a podcast from the Widget rather than having to open each app specifically.
A new app is launching with iOS 17 (though later in the year) in the form of a Journal app. It will offer up intelligently curated suggestions, such as photos from that day, or your activity to encourage you to write down what you've done that day and preserve memories. You will be able to add details to any entry with photos, music and audio recordings. It is possible to lock your journal and only you can access your journal.
Keyboard has been updated with better autocorrect so you can make sure you get the ducking word right. Autocorrected words are temporarily underlined so you know what's been changed and you can tap to go back to the original word if you want to. You can also tap the space bar to finish words or sentences.
A number of changes have arrived on Safari with iOS 17, including the ability to create profiles that allow you to keep browsing separate between work and personal. Profiles split history, extensions, Tab Groups, cookies and favourites. Search has also improved and Private Browsing windows are locked when you're not using them either. Autofill verification codes that come into your email in Mail are also autofilled in Safari when they come through so you don't have to come out of Safari, check Mail and go back in. Game changer that.
The Apple Music app gets a few updates with iOS 17, including SharePlay to make it easier for everyone to play music in the car through CarPlay. You can invite friends to collaborate on playlists and use emoji to react to song choices in Now Playing.
When it comes to AirPlay, preferences for your favourite devices are learned over time, and you can AirPlay to devices in hotel rooms by scanning a QR code on a compatible room's TV for example.
There are some changes to Maps too, including the ability to download maps to use offline, and if you have an electric car, you can see real-time charging station availability.
There's been plenty of chatter about the Health app and iOS 17 brings a number of updates to the already comprehensive app. There are options to log moods, emotions and manage vision problems like short sightedness.
Which iPhones are compatible with iOS 17?
- iPhone XS and newer
Apple dropped support for the iPhone 8 models and the iPhone X - all of which launched in 2017 - for iOS 17 so those devices won't be able to upgrade to the software. Apple hasn't put any devices on the chopping block for iOS 17, which means all the devices that support iOS 16 can offer the new features. The following iPhones are therefore compatible with iOS 17:
- Apple iPhone XS
- Apple iPhone XS Max
- Apple iPhone XR
- Apple iPhone 11
- Apple iPhone SE (2020)
- Apple iPhone 12 mini
- Apple iPhone 12
- Apple iPhone 12 Pro
- Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
- Apple iPhone 13 mini
- Apple iPhone 13
- Apple iPhone 13 Pro
- Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
- Apple iPhone SE (2022)
- Apple iPhone 14
- Apple iPhone 14 Plus
- Apple iPhone 14 Pro
- Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Remember though, not all of iOS 17's features arrive on older devices as there are a couple that require the processing power or hardware form newer devices to support them.
iOS 17 rumours: What happened?
This is everything we heard about iOS 17 before it was officially announced.
12 July 2023: Apple released the iOS 17 public beta
Apple made the public beta of iOS 17 available, meaning you can download it on your device now if you have a compatible device.
5 June 2023: Apple officially reveals iOS 17 and some of the features coming to iPhone
Apple has officially revealed iOS 17 on stage at WWDC. The company detailed a number of features coming to iPhone later this year.
28 May 2023: Gurman offers more details on iOS 17
Mark Gurman of Bloomberg published his Power On newsletter detailing some more information on what to expect from iOS 17.
24 May 2023: Is Apple going after the Echo Show with iOS 17 smart display feature for iPhone?
Mark Gurman of Bloomberg has suggested iOS 17 will bring some changes to iPhone models when locked and in landscape mode, perhaps offering more information like calendar events and other "snippets of information".
3 May 2023: Possible iOS 17 features detailed in report
MacRumours reported around 8 features that are rumoured to come to iOS 17.
25 April 2023: Apple rumoured to revamp Health app, possibly with iOS 17
Mark Gurman of Bloomberg reported Apple is working on an intellience-powered coaching service called Quartz for iPhone and iPad that will allow users to track emotions and "keep users motivatwd to exercise, improve eating habits, and help them sleep better".
21 April 2023: Apple plans iPhone Journalling app
The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is planning a Journal app with a daily activities log.
6 April 2023: Your iPhone's Control Centre could get an overhaul with iOS 17
A report claimed Apple might change up the Control Centre with iOS 17.
5 April 2023: Conflicting reports surround iOS 17 and supported iPhones
There have been a couple of different reports surrounding iOS 17 and which iPhones will be supported. Some leakers say Apple will drop support for iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, while others claim that's "simply incorrect".
5 April: iOS 17 rumoured to bring changes to Control Centre
MacRumours reported a forum user - who accurately detailed information about Dynamic Island previously - said Apple is planning changes to the Control Centre for iOS 17, though the user didn't detail what those changes might be.
29 March 2023: Apple announces WWDC 2023 - unveiling AR/VR headset, iOS 17, more?
Apple announced its annual Worldwide Developers Conference will take place online between 5 June and 9 June.
29 March 2023: Some changes reported for iOS 17, but nothing major
According to LeaksApplePro, Apple isn't planning any major changes for iOS 17, though there will be some changes to the Music app, Mail app, Reminders and Files.
26 March 2023: Gurman says iOS 17 will have some 'nice to have features'
Mark Gurman reported in his Power On newsletter that Apple will bring some 'nice to have features' with iOS 17 and while he didn't detail what these might be, he did say they would be some of the "most requested features".
20 February 2023: Apple's iOS 17 developer beta will gain measures to prevent unauthorised installs
It's been reported that Apple may be cracking down on the way iOS betas are handled in an attempt to stop people from installing the developer betas of iOS 17 when they aren't actually developers. It would mean you'd have to wait for the public beta to be released to get your hands on iOS 17 before it is released in its final form.
8 January 2023: iOS 17 will focus on bug fixes over new features
Mark Gurman published his Power On newsletter and reported that iOS 17 may lack new features as Apple was placing its focus on xrOS instead.
14 December 2022: Apple might allow third-party app stores on the iPhone with iOS 17
According to Bloomberg, iOS 17 could see Apple allowing users to install alternative app stores on their iOS devices. This capability might only come to devices in Europe in order to comply with upcoming EU rules, and the company might only allow the installation of approved apps. It would still be quite a major shift though.