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iOS 17: Your iPhone gets a major update today – here’s what you need to know

Ahead of the release of the iPhone 15, a major software update will land on Apple’s existing handsets today.

iOS 17 brings new features including a standby mode that turns your device into a bedside smart display, interactive widgets for the home screen, and the ability to clone your voice with AI.

Sky News has been putting the update through its paces since it rolled out to beta testers earlier this summer, and we’ve assembled a list of the main things you need to know.

But first, how do you actually get the update?

Check your iPhone is compatible

A good soldier may never leave a man behind, but each year sees Apple kick at least one iPhone off its update list.

This time it’s particularly symbolic as one of those to miss out is the iPhone X, which was the first to ditch the once ubiquitous home button when it debuted in 2017.

Also missing out on iOS 17 are the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, but they – like the X – will still get vital security updates.

Any newer iPhones are set for today’s changes – if you’re not sure what you have, check the model name in your phone’s settings under general/about.

Install the update

If you have automatic updates enabled, iOS 17 should arrive without you having to do anything.

It may take a few days, though, so if you’re impatient you can force it to install yourself today.

Head to the settings app, then general/about/software update to check if Apple’s made it available yet.

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Now without further ado, on to the headline new features…

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‘Ducking’ autocorrect

One of the most celebrated announcements when Apple first detailed iOS 17 was upgraded autocorrect.

The iPhone keyboard will now learn how you like to chat, thus no longer “correcting” any vulgar vocabulary you may enjoy using completely intentionally.

Standby mode

For those of you who sleep with your iPhone by your bed, this will turn it into a home hub-like assistant.

When activated, popping your phone on charge and in landscape mode will have the screen display chosen widgets like the clock, calendar, photos, weather, and media playback controls.

Standby mode is designed to be used with charging stands like this one. Pic: Apple
Standby mode is designed to be used with charging stands like this one. Pic: Apple

    Interactive widgets

    Apple was late to the widgets party when they finally arrived on iPhone a few years ago, and it’s following Android again this time by making them interactive.

    It basically means you can have micro limited versions of apps you can operate right from the home screen without actually opening them – ticking tasks off a reminders list, for example.

    Calls and messages

    The phone app will introduce customisable contact cards, which will show up when you get a call – and you can share them with someone new using AirDrop by bringing your devices close together.

    Voicemails are getting more useful, with live transcriptions helping you decide whether to pick up or ignore the call, while you’ll also be to leave them in video form via FaceTime.

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    And messages will adopt a check-in feature similar to apps like HomeSafe, so you can let friends and family when you’re going out and where – sending them an alert when you reach your planned destination, and displaying critical information like battery level and signal strength if there’s no response.

    The contact cards, with customisable pictures and text, will show up when you receive calls. Pic: Apple
    The contact cards, with customisable pictures and text, will show up when you receive calls. Pic: Apple

    Voice cloning and accessibility

    The aforementioned voice cloning lets you make an on-demand version of yourself that you can have read aloud any typed phrases – we’ve tested it and you can read about how it works here.

    It’s designed for people at risk of losing the ability to speak, or those who find it difficult, and so lives under the accessibility settings – along with other new features like customising Siri’s speaking speed.

    Privacy and security

    You can now share passwords in your iCloud keychain with trusted friends and family members, while the Safari web browser will hide your private sessions behind a facial recognition lock.

    Apple’s messaging apps, and third-party ones that support it, can now flag sensitive photos and videos to you before you open them – chiefly designed to stop you receiving unwanted nude pics.

    The check-in feature being added to the messages app. Pic: Apple
    The check-in feature being added to the messages app. Pic: Apple

    Photo recognition

    In a big win for multi-pet households, the photos app can now recognise and distinguish between animals.

    And if someone sends you a picture of a good-looking plate of food, you can tap the info button and get an online recipe selection for similar dishes.

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    Mental health

    Most people likely associate the health app with tracking runs, swims, and cycles – but it will now offer a way to track mood and assess signs of anxiety and depression.

    A journal app also comes with iOS 17 for users to record their thoughts.

    And a PSA: “Hey Siri” is changing to even easier to accidentally activate “Siri”, so be careful out there.



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