There are a few nice upgrades coming to iOS 17 later this year, and after two weeks on the official beta, I think it's time to talk about some of my favourites. So, in no particular order...
I have wanted this for ages. It's mind-boggling that it's taken this long, and it's been one of the few reasons I have kept Google Maps permanently installed. Offline maps will hopefully make Google redundant although as of this writing, if you find yourself relying on offline maps, routing information isn't available so Google will stay for now. Hopefully, it's just a bug.
Transcribe Voice Messages.
I know voice messages aren't for everybody but they're quick and easy, and for me with one teenager and one almost teenager, I get a lot of them (voice messages seem to be THE way their generation communicates; I wonder if they know they can just make phone calls?). However, I can't always listen to them, either due to noise or just from the fact I don't want people hearing what they may say, so having the message transcribed inline is brilliant. When it works.
Dropping the "Hey" from "Hey Siri" may seem like it's no big deal, but it's monumental in terms of how natural it feels to talk to our least favourite assistant. Now if only Apple could replace Siri with something that meets modern expectations for speed, natural language processing and reliability, that would be great.
This one is just visual eye candy, but man does it look good. In fact, I think a lot of the visual changes that you can now make across iOS really allow you to add a sense of personality.
The New iMessage Apps Menu.
More room to see messages and less clutter. What's not to like?
Again, with a teenager who is spending more and more time out with friends and further from home Check In is going to be a massive peace of mind for me. It allows somebody to let you know they're going somewhere, where they are along their route, and when they arrive. And if they deviate from the route too much you get an alert. We already have Find My notifications enabled so I know when she leaves for school and — importantly — when she arrives.
And before I get hate, she is well aware of the Find My feature, what it does, and knows how to turn it off. She also knows it's not used for spying and checking up on her unless there is a genuine concern. Parents, remember, respect is a two-way street.
Collaborative playlists are finally coming to Apple Music. It's not coming until later this year, but man am I excited to try it out!
Some of my least favourite things.
Of course, no article would be worth writing if there wasn't some criticism.
FaceTime & Live Voicemail.
Like a lot of people, I don't even have voicemail activated. If I didn't answer the phone there is probably a reason and a voicemail just isn't getting listened to. If it's really urgent message me the details and I will call you back. Voicemail to me is just a way for somebody to say "listen to me now" and most people just aren't that important.
I'm sure in time this will get better and I have to remember that this is a BETA, but right now I find myself double-checking messages before I send them because sometimes it's completely nonsensical. Being able to write "fucking" without it getting changed to "ducking" is nice though, and it was a WWDC memeable moment.
Apple once made fun of an app called Bump, and now they've made it a native feature. And it's daft for one reason only: it's not cross-platform.
I believe that until there is a universal standard to replace the current universal standard of just giving somebody your number verbally, then it's all a moot point.
Speaking works regardless of what platform the other person is on whether it be iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, writing it on a napkin at a bar... shit, wait, this isn't a movie is it.
That's a Wrap.
There are a ton more features coming to iOS 17 later this year. In fact, I am surprised it was such a jam-packed update given that one of the rumours swirling around was that it was going to be an update that focussed more on bug fixes than improvements, and I've not even mentioned the stuff coming to iPadOS. Apple have been really busy.