Unlocking iOS 17: the new features you can't afford to miss


From auto-deleting 2FA codes to deciphering cryptic laundry symbols, iOS 17 solves the first-world problems you never knew you had.

In the realm of technology, few companies can ignite the kind of anticipation for an operating system update that Apple does. Whether you love or hate them, their unparalleled ability to make even the most mundane aspects of software feel like monumental advancements is nothing short of a masterstroke in user engagement.

If you are the type of cautious iPhone user who sits on the sidelines and lets brave digital explorers iron out the early bugs, have no fear – the official rollout of iOS 17 is now underway. The rush to download the upgraded operating system and try the shiny new features will probably mean your phone will be out of action for over an hour, so make sure you’re ready to go cold turkey during the upgrade process.

Once you arrive on the other side, things will look slightly different with significant updates to heavily used features such as Messages, FaceTime, and keyboard. Before getting distracted by shiny, gimmicky features, let's look at some of the biggest first-world problems that Apple is attempting to resolve in its latest release.

Auto-transcribe audio messages and voicemail

For the person sending it, an audio message is a godsend. Why type a five-minute text only to get a lackluster thumbs-up emoji in return? It feels more personal than a mere text, doesn't it? On the flip side, it's a digital microaggression for the receiver. The sender doesn't pause to consider if you're in a meeting, chauffeuring the kids, or jamming to your go-to playlist. You're expected to drop everything and listen. But with iOS 17, there's finally a middle ground that respects both sides.

iOS 17 introduces a game-changing feature for audio messages: automatic transcription. When you receive an audio message in the Messages app, a text transcription appears below it. This offers immediate context, which is especially useful if you can't listen to the audio immediately. While the feature is generally reliable, its accuracy may vary depending on audio quality, language, and accents. It strikes a thoughtful balance, catering to both senders who appreciate the ease of audio messaging and recipients who value the convenience of skimming text.

Live Voicemail also allows users to read a live transcript of incoming voicemails as they’re being recorded. This feature is especially advantageous for vetting calls from unknown numbers, offering the option to answer or ignore the call based on the content. Accessible directly from your lock screen and easily enabled via the Settings app, Live Voicemail eliminates the guesswork from the equation. While earlier beta versions presented some wording challenges, Apple has addressed these. If you find the feature annoying, a simple toggle in the settings restores your voicemail to its traditional function.

Improved keyboard autocorrect

You’re finally allowed to swear in Apple's corporate walled gardens. Yes, you ducking heard me right. By employing a transformer language model for on-device machine learning, the revamped autocorrect is engineered to understand the context in conversations and predict entire sentences, reducing the frequency of 'ducking' typos and grammatical errors. The more intuitive user experience reflects the user's language style back at them.

At the same time, it invites debate on how far technology should go in adapting to individual habits, potentially at the cost of diluting standardized language norms. While some hail the feature as a long-overdue evolution that allows for more natural and expressive digital conversations, skeptics worry that it might inadvertently reinforce spelling and grammar mistakes, making autocorrect less of an aid and more of a crutch.

Nevertheless, the capability to quickly revert incorrect suggestions by tapping underlined words offers a fallback, striking a balance between automation and user control. Before long, Gen Alpha will be puzzled, asking why Gen Z and Millennials keep reminiscing about the "ducking" days of autocorrect. It'll become their modern version of "I remember when we didn't even have smartphones or the internet," as this autocorrect nostalgia joins the ever-growing "When I was your age" story collection.

Automatically purge verification codes

Remember when a quick look down your iMessages was an endless scroll of amusing conversations with your friends and family? But the arrival of two-factor authentication (2FA) became a ubiquitous practice and quickly filled your inbox with verification codes to complete the login process.

Fortunately, iOS 17 offers a convenient solution to tidy up your digital clutter once and for all. The operating system now features an auto-delete function specifically for these verification codes, streamlining your digital life by automatically removing these one-time-use tokens. This innovation not only gives you your inbox back but also minimizes the potential security risks of retaining such sensitive data.

To access the new feature, navigate to Settings > Passwords > Password Options. Once activated, the verification codes in the Messages and Mail apps are automatically purged. This automatic deletion enhances convenience and security, streamlining your user experience while minimizing data retention risks.

ios17 codes

iOS 17's Visual Look-Up takes the guesswork out of laundry care

In a digital age, navigating the mysterious world of laundry symbols on clothing tags can feel like staring at Egyptian hieroglyphs. These icons offer critical care instructions for washing, drying, and ironing, yet they make little sense to the uninitiated. iOS 17's Visual Look-Up feature comes to the rescue, offering an intuitive solution for decoding these enigmatic symbols.

Simply photograph the laundry tag and access it in the Photos app. From there, a swipe-up or tap on the info symbol reveals a 'Look Up Laundry Care' option, which, when clicked, directs you to a list of websites that interpret each symbol for you. Not only does this feature simplify garment care, but it also extends the lifespan of your clothing by ensuring you adhere to the proper care guidelines. As a result, Visual Look-Up in iOS 17 transforms a previously tedious task into a seamless experience, inevitably making you more knowledgeable about laundry care over time.

'Check In' feature modernizes keeping loved ones informed

Remember the old days when signaling you were home safe meant giving the landline three quick rings? This evolved into "text me when you're home," but the problem was always the same: sometimes you'd forget, sparking unnecessary worry and panic would quickly ensue. iOS 17 introduces a new "Check In" feature that modernizes this experience.

It automatically notifies chosen contacts when you arrive home and provides updates if you're delayed, sharing details like your location and battery life. To activate, open a chat in the Messages app and tap the '+' icon. But beware, the classic "my battery died" excuse might become obsolete with this feature.

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Use Apple Maps offline to navigate

Most would concede that we now rely on smartphones for communication, real-time information, banking, and navigation. However, that dependency can spell trouble when traveling abroad and facing costly roaming charges or a lack of data connectivity. Enter iOS 17, which offers a savvy solution: the ability to download offline maps. This feature lets you navigate to your destination without needing an internet connection.

Activating it is straightforward – tap your profile picture in the top-right corner of the Maps app, then select 'Offline Maps.' From there, you can search for the specific location you need and adjust the area covered before downloading it to your device. This new feature brings peace of mind, making international travel less daunting.

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Useful innovation vs gimmicks

iOS 17 continues Apple's tradition of introducing features that teeter on the boundary between useful innovation and delightful gimmickry. For instance, Apple is also extending its facial recognition tech to the animal kingdom, turning its Photos app into a 'Pets and People' album where human and four-legged family members can be tagged.

NameDrop allows the seamless sharing of contact details between iPhones and Apple Watches through mere proximity, complete with visually appealing 'Contact Posters' – essentially digital business cards with customizable fonts, photos, and colors.

Meanwhile, FaceTime enters the voicemail era, letting users leave video messages for unavailable friends. Stickers receive a noteworthy upgrade as well – not only are they integrated into the emoji keyboard, but users can now create their own personalized stickers with effects, adding a layer of self-expression and meme potential.

Finally, Standby mode, the feature we never knew we needed. Now, your charging iPhone can serve as your personal billboard, displaying the time, your favorite photos, or even headlines you probably won't read – all without you lifting a finger.

Stepping back from the initial excitement, iOS 17 isn't just about making your life easier – it's arguably about turning your phone into an ever-interactive, borderline-clingy life companion. However, the irony lies in that many of these shiny new features may end up neglected within a few weeks as users inevitably return to their usual habits.


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