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One of the big changes in iOS 17 is support for interactive widgets, a major improvement compared to the initial version of widgets that debuted with iOS 14. In line with this, Apple has also added dedicated widgets for the Home app, letting you control your favourite HomeKit accessories right from your iPhone’s Home Screen.
In prior versions of iOS, tapping on a widget would take you directly to the corresponding app. For instance, tapping on the Music app widget would take right to the Music app rather than immediately starting playback from the widget itself. This limitation is presumably why Apple didn’t offer Home app widgets until this year.
In iOS 17, Apple has added two different widgets for the Home app. There’s a 2×2 widget that offers you quick access to four HomeKit accessories alongside a larger version that shows up to eight accessories. Meanwhile, iPadOS 17 offers the same two sizes for Home app widgets with the same level of interactivity.
Each of these Home app widgets has two different setup options for determining which accessories show up at any given time. You can choose “Recommended,” and iOS 17 will attempt to intelligently choose which HomeKit accessories you control at different times of the day.
Alternatively, you can disable the “Recommended” option and specifically choose which HomeKit accessories and scenes appear in the widgets.
Tapping on the individual squares for each accessory will turn it on or off in the case of lights, lock/unlock doors, and open/close garage doors. More advanced changes, such as adjusting brightness levels, colors, or thermostat temperatures still have to be done via the Home app itself.
If you use custom Home Screens linked to Focus modes, you can have different versions of the widget for each Focus Mode. For instance, if you have a specific Home Screen for the “Sleep” Focus mode, you can set up a version of the Home app widget that shows accessories you most commonly use at night and first thing in the morning.
iOS 17 is only in its first developer beta, so I’m optimistic Apple can make a few tweaks before the update is released to everyone later this fall. For instance, if you have accessory or room names that are more than one (very short) word, there will be quite a bit of cutoff text in the widgets that really clutters up the design.
Apple announces iOS 17 with Journal, Standby, FaceTime voicemail, more
Apple has officially announced iOS 17. Here’s what’s in store for the next major iPhone software update. The update has four focuses: communication, sharing, intelligent input, and new experiences.
- gaining personalized contact posts that you set for others to see when you call them; also available in Contacts app; similar to customizing Lock Screen
- gets Live Voicemail with voice-to-text transcription before answering; transcription is handled on device
- brings FaceTime voicemail through a quick video recording
- Search has narrower terms for precision results
- Swipe to reply on any bubble
- Audio Messages are transcribed
- Location sharing now inline with conversation
- Check In is a new feature for notifying family when you arrive safely; automatically recognizes when you don’t make progress or respond and shares update with family
- iMessage apps “gracefully tucked away” under new + button
- All emoji are now stickers
- Remove background feature now turns subjects into stickers
- NameDrop is a new way to share phone number and email sharing between nearby iPhones
- Sharing media is also redesigned, and long media transfers can continue over the internet
- SharePlay API adding AirDrop integration
- Keyboard now leverages “transformer language model” to improve predictions
- Keyboard can learn what you really mean by “ducking” … ffff
- Predictions personalized by your words and usage
- Dictation upgrade
- Uses on-device machine learning to create personalized suggestions for journaling – Suggestions API for other apps
- Includes photos, workouts, and interactions as prompts
- Entries can be marked as important to standout
- Prompts will inspire you to write
- Journal can be locked and is end-to-end encrypted for privacy
- New full-screen experience that displays information in landscape mode
- Can be personalized to show data like clocks, photos, widgets, weather, Home controls, and third-party widgets
- Supports Live Activities
- Siri works in Standby with special landscape user interface
- Red tone like Apple Watch Ultra used for displaying clock at night
- Siri no longer requires Hey before Siri for voice activation
- Live Stickers
- Offline maps
iOS 17 will be available as a developer beta and public beta over the summer. iPhone users can update to the final release this fall.
Official press release below:
iOS 17 makes iPhone more personal and intuitive
PRESS RELEASE June 5, 2023
The release introduces major updates to communications apps, easier sharing with AirDrop, more intelligent text input, and new experiences with Journal and StandBy
Three iPhone 14 Pro devices show the updated Phone, FaceTime, and Messages experiences in iOS 17.
iOS 17 upgrades the communications experience with Contact Posters, a new stickers experience, Live Voicemail, and much more.
CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA Apple today announced iOS 17, a major release that upgrades the communications experience across Phone, FaceTime, and Messages; makes sharing even easier with AirDrop; and provides more intelligent input that improves the speed and accuracy of typing. iOS 17 also introduces new experiences with Journal, an app that makes it easy for people to practice gratitude, and StandBy, a new way to view glanceable information when iPhone is set down and charging.
“With iOS 17, we’ve made iPhone more personal and intuitive by deeply considering the features we all rely on every day,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “Phone, FaceTime, and Messages are central to how we communicate, and this release is packed with updates we think our users are going to love. We’ve also reimagined AirDrop with new ways to share, autocorrect gets even better, and we’re introducing all-new experiences with Journal and StandBy, plus so much more. We can’t wait for everyone to try it.”
Major Upgrades to the Phone Experience
The Phone app is central to the iPhone experience, and it receives a big update with personalized Contact Posters, providing a new way for users to express themselves. Users can customize how they appear, bringing a completely new look to incoming calls, and choose beautiful treatments for photos or Memoji, as well as eye-catching typography and font colors. Contact Posters will also be available for third-party calling apps.
Live Voicemail gives users the ability to see real-time transcription as someone leaves a voicemail, and the opportunity to pick up while the caller is leaving their message. Calls identified as spam by carriers won’t appear as Live Voicemail, and will instead be instantly declined. With the power of the Neural Engine, Live Voicemail transcription is handled on-device and remains entirely private.
The transcription of a Live Voicemail from Nico is shown on iPhone 14 Pro.
Live Voicemail gives users the ability to see real-time transcription as someone leaves a voicemail, and the opportunity to pick up while the caller is leaving their message.
FaceTime Adds Audio and Video Messages, Reactions, and Extends to Apple TV
FaceTime now supports audio and video messages so when users call someone who is not available, they can share a message that can be enjoyed later.
FaceTime now supports voice and video messages so when users call someone who is not available, they can share a moment or message that can be enjoyed later.
FaceTime calls also get more expressive with Reactions such as hearts, balloons, fireworks, laser beams, rain, and more. The new effects can be activated through simple gestures, and third-party video calling apps can take advantage of them as well.
In an exciting update to Apple TV 4K, FaceTime now extends to the biggest screen in the home. Powered by Continuity Camera, users can initiate a video call directly from Apple TV, or start the call on iPhone and then hand it off to Apple TV, to see friends and family on their television. With Center Stage, users will have perfect framing even as they move around the room.
A Fresh Look and Big Updates to Messages
Messages gets significant updates with iOS 17, including an all-new stickers experience with new emoji stickers and the ability to create Live Stickers by lifting subjects from photos. Users can also add effects to Live Stickers that bring them to life, and a new drawer in the keyboard puts all of a user’s stickers in one place for easier access across iOS.
An all-new stickers experience adds the ability to create Live Stickers by lifting subjects from photos, and users can add effects that will help bring the stickers to life.
New Messages features enhance the way users communicate. An expandable menu that can be accessed with a simple tap to display iMessage apps gives Messages a sleeker look. Search gets more powerful and precise with search filters, making it possible for users to start a search and add additional filters to narrow down the results and find exactly what they are seeking. A new catch-up arrow indicates where the user last left off in the conversation, and replying inline is as simple as swiping on a text bubble. If a user shares their location, it will update in real time right in the conversation. When sending an audio message, it’s transcribed automatically so users can read it in the moment or listen later.
Messages also introduces Check In, an important feature for when a user wants to notify a family member or friend that they have made it to their destination safely. After a user initiates a Check In, their friend or family member will automatically be notified as soon as the user arrives. If they are not making progress toward their destination, useful information will be temporarily shared with the selected contact, such as the device’s location, battery level, and cell service status. Any information shared is end-to-end encrypted.
Three iPhone 14 Pro devices show the new Check In feature in iOS 17.
Messages introduces Check In, a feature that allows the user to notify family members and friends that they’ve arrived at their destination safely.
Easier Sharing with AirDrop and NameDrop
AirDrop makes it easy to share a file with a colleague or send photos to a friend in seconds, and with iOS 17, AirDrop gets new ways to share. NameDrop allows users to easily share contact information by simply bringing their iPhones together, or by bringing an iPhone and Apple Watch together.1 With the same gesture, users can also share content or start SharePlay to listen to music, watch a movie, or play a game while in close proximity between iPhone devices.
NameDrop allows users to easily share contact information by simply bringing their iPhone devices together.
Improvements to Autocorrect and Dictation Deliver More Intelligent Input
Autocorrect receives a comprehensive update with a transformer language model, a state-of-the-art on-device machine learning language model for word prediction — improving the experience and accuracy for users every time they type. It also receives a refreshed design to better support typing, and sentence-level autocorrections can fix more types of grammatical mistakes. Users will now receive predictive text recommendations inline as they type, so adding entire words or completing sentences is as easy as tapping the space bar, making text entry faster than ever. Dictation leverages a new speech recognition model to make it even more accurate.
StandBy Displays Glanceable Information While iPhone Is Charging
iOS 17 introduces StandBy, giving users a full-screen experience with glanceable information designed to be viewed from a distance when iPhone is on its side and charging. StandBy is perfect on a nightstand, kitchen counter, or desk, and can be personalized to display a range of beautiful clock styles, favorite photos, or widgets, including Smart Stacks, which surface the right widgets at the right time. With support for Live Activities, Siri, incoming calls, and larger notifications, StandBy makes iPhone even more useful when viewed at a distance. When charging with MagSafe, StandBy remembers a user’s preferred view. It is easy to bring up StandBy anytime by tapping the screen, and on iPhone 14 Pro with the Always-On display, it is always available.
A New Way to Appreciate Life’s Moments with Journal
Journal is a new app that helps iPhone users reflect and practice gratitude through journaling, which has been shown to improve wellbeing. Using on-device machine learning, personalized suggestions can be provided to help inspire a user’s journal entry. Suggestions are intelligently curated from recent activity, including photos, people, places, workouts, and more, making it easy to start a journal entry, and scheduled notifications can help build a journaling habit. With the ability to lock the app, the use of on-device processing, and end-to-end encryption, Journal is built to protect a user’s privacy and ensure no one — including Apple — can access a user’s entries. With the new Journaling Suggestions API, developers will be able to add journaling suggestions to their apps.2
Additional features in iOS 17 include:
Safari adds greater protection for Private Browsing, both from trackers as a user browses, and from people who might have access to a user’s device. Advanced tracking and fingerprinting protections go even further to help prevent websites from tracking or identifying a user’s device. Private Browsing now locks when not in use, allowing a user to keep tabs open even when stepping away from the device.
For easier and more secure password and passkeys sharing, users can share passwords with a group of trusted contacts. Everyone in the group can add and edit passwords to keep them up to date. Since sharing is through iCloud Keychain, it’s end-to-end encrypted.
The Health app offers new mental health features. Users can log their daily moods and momentary emotions; see what might be contributing to their state of mind; and easily access depression and anxiety assessments often used in clinics, plus resources available in their region. Additionally, increasing the distance the device is viewed from can help children lower their risk of myopia and gives adult users the opportunity to reduce digital eyestrain. Screen Distance in Screen Time uses the TrueDepth camera to encourage users to move their device farther away after holding it closer than 12 inches from their face for an extended period of time.
Maps adds offline maps, so users can download a specific area and access turn-by-turn navigation, see their estimated time of arrival, find places in Maps, and more while offline. Maps also makes it easier than ever to discover thousands of trails in parks across the United States, and supports electric vehicle drivers with real-time charging availability information.
AirTag can be shared with up to five other people, allowing friends and family to keep track of an item in Find My. Everyone in a group will be able to see an item’s location, play a sound, and use Precision Finding to help pinpoint the location of a shared AirTag when nearby. This also works with all other Find My network accessories.
Apple Music introduces Collaborative Playlists that make listening to music with friends easier than ever before, and SharePlay in the car allows all passengers to easily contribute to what’s playing.3 Listeners can control the music from their own devices, even if they don’t have an Apple Music subscription.
Sharing content using AirPlay is even easier with on-device intelligence now learning a user’s preferences. AirPlay will also work with supported televisions in hotels, allowing users to easily enjoy their favorite content on the TV when traveling. Built with a foundation of privacy and security, this capability will be available before the end of the year in select hotels, starting with brands from IHG Hotels & Resorts.
AirPods receive powerful new features, including Adaptive Audio, Personalized Volume, and Conversation Awareness, that redefine the personal audio experience. Plus, improvements to Automatic Switching and call controls make AirPods even easier to use.
The Home app adds the ability for users to view up to 30 days of activity history across door locks, garage doors, alarm systems, and contact sensors. Additionally, two popular HomeKit lock features — tap to unlock and PIN codes — are now available for Matter-compatible locks, providing even more ways to connect the home.
Reminders features a grocery list that automatically groups added items into categories to make shopping easier. Users can change how the items are grouped and the list remembers their preferences.
Visual Look Up is now available in paused video frames. Now users can identify food, storefronts, signs, and symbols, and lift individual subjects from photos and videos.
Siri can be activated by simply saying “Siri.” Once activated, users can issue multiple commands in succession without needing to reactivate the assistant.
In Photos, the People album uses on-device machine learning to recognize more photos of a user’s favorite people, as well as cats and dogs.
Privacy updates include the expansion of Communication Safety beyond Messages to help keep kids safe when sending and receiving content via AirDrop, Contact Posters, a FaceTime message, and when using the Photos picker to choose content to send. It also expands to cover video content in addition to still images. A new feature, Sensitive Content Warning, helps adult users avoid seeing unwanted nude images and videos. As with Communication Safety, all image and video processing for Sensitive Content Warning occurs on-device, so Apple does not get access to the content.
Accessibility updates include Assistive Access, a customizable interface that helps users with cognitive disabilities use iPhone with greater ease and independence; Live Speech, which gives nonspeaking users the option to type and have their words spoken in person, or on phone and FaceTime calls; Personal Voice, which gives users at risk of speech loss the option to create a voice that sounds like theirs; and Point and Speak, which helps users who are blind or have low vision read text on physical objects by pointing.
The developer beta of iOS 17 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta will be available next month at beta.apple.com. New software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone Xs and later. For more information, visit apple.com/ios/ios-17-preview. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions, all languages, or on all devices. For more information about availability, visit www.apple.com.