Apple iOS 17: Here Are The 7 Biggest Features

New features include updates to to calling and voicemail, enhanced search for Messages, a customizable assistive access interface and the locking of private browsing in Safari when not in use.

Live voicemail. The next iteration of AirDrop. And the ability for machine learning to identify individual cats and dogs in photos.

These are some of the new features that come with Apple’s new iOS 17 mobile operating system, now available as a free software update for users of iPhone Xs and later models.

The new OS from the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant comes just days after Apple disclosed new features for its iPhone 15 series and Apple Watch Series 9.

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Apple iOS 17 Debuts

During Apple’s latest quarterly earnings report in August, the vendor revealed a slide in sales for iPhones, Macs and iPads with a small boost in wearables revenue and a new record for services revenue.

The iPhone segment saw sales drop by 2.4 percent to $39.7 billion, but Apple CEO Tim Cook said that was against record iPhone sales in the same period last year.

When not accounting for the negative impact of foreign currency rates, Cook said iPhone revenue grew and the third quarter was a record for the number of people switching to an iPhone.

Here’s what else you need to know.

Calling, Voicemail Updates

iPhone users can customize how they appear when calling known contacts, even on third-party calling applications, through the personalized contact posters feature.

Users can leverage photos, typography, font colors and Memojis—icons and images that look like the user—when using this feature.

Users also gained access to live voicemail for real-time transcriptions as callers leave a message, giving users the chance to pick up mid-message, according to Apple.

Live voicemail uses the Apple Neural Engine, with transcriptions on device and private.

Users who enable the “silence unknown callers” feature transfer those calls directly to live voicemail. Calls identified as spam by carriers are declined.

New FaceTime Features

FaceTime users can now leave video or audio messages when a call recipient is not available.

Users can leverage simple gestures to activate hearts, balloons, fireworks, laser beams and other reaction icons. Zoom, Cisco’s Webex and other third-party videoconferencing applications can also use these reactions, according to Apple.

FaceTime also now connects with Apple TV 4K, with a continuity camera feature allowing users to start a FaceTime call on the TV or move an in-progress FaceTime call from iPhone to the TV.

The center stage feature keeps users framed as they move around the room, according to Apple.

Messages Updates

Apple said it has enhanced search for Messages and added the ability to reply inline by swiping on a text bubble.

A new expandable menu promises easier access to all iMessage applications. Plus, users get the ability to make live stickers by using subjects from photos and adding effects.

Apple users can leverage Messages’ check-in feature to notify others about destination arrivals. If users are not progressing toward their destination, selected contacts can temporarily and securely get information on the device’s location, battery level and cell service status, according to Apple.

For spelling-challenged users, Apple updated its autocorrect feature with a new transformer language model, a machine learning model for word prediction and improved accuracy.

A new design also means temporarily underlined corrected words for users to revert back to the previous word if they choose with a tap, according to Apple.

Speaking of machine learning, Photos on iOS 17 received a technology update to recognize individual cats and dogs like the app does for people, according to Apple.

The StandBy Experience

The StandBy full-screen experience used when iPhones are on their side and charging gives users glanceable information from a distance.

StandBy can display a range of clock styles, photos, widgets, activities, results from virtual assistant Siri, incoming calls and notifications.

StandBy has a night mode and remembers users’ preferred views when in a MagSafe charging dock, according to Apple.

Next Iteration Of AirDrop

With iOS 17, Apple adds NameDrop, an AirDrop feature for exchanging contact information and contact posters.

Like AirDrop, users bring their iPhone devices together and use a gesture to share content.

Later this year, AirDrop will get an update to continue transfers over the internet if a user leaves the range, according to Apple.

More Accessibility

New accessibility updates with iOS 17 include a customizable assistive access interface aimed at users with cognitive disabilities, according to Apple.

Live speech gives nonspeaking users the ability to type and have words spoken in person, on the phone and during FaceTime calls.

Users at risk of speech loss can use the personal voice feature to create a voice that sounds like theirs. The point and speak feature aims to help users who are blind or have low vision read text on physical objects.

Security, Health Improvements

Some of the security improvements for iOS 17 include locking of private browsing in Safari when not in use. Users can also share passwords with trusted contacts.

The iPhone Home app gained the ability for users to view up to 30 days of activity history from door locks, garage doors, alarm systems and contact systems for homes with the applicable devices.

A new sensitive content warning feature helps adult users avoid certain images and videos. The images and videos are processed on the device, preventing Apple from accessing the content.

The communication safety privacy feature has been expanded beyond Messages to prevent video and still image sending and receiving through AirDrop, contact posters, FaceTime messages and the Photos picker option.

On the health side of iOS 17, a screen distance feature uses iPhone’s TrueDepth camera to tell users to move devices further from their faces if it’s been within 12 inches for an extended period of time, which could help with eye strain, according to Apple.

iPhone’s health application gained mental health features for logging daily moods and momentary emotions among other capabilities.