Apple has just wrapped what was probably its longest WWDC keynote in years, and as expected, the company put the wraps off the next major updates coming to its various software platforms. There are a lot of new features coming with iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma, but watchOS 10 is probably the biggest update Apple announced today.
iOS 17 introduces major updates for three core communication apps: Phone, FaceTime, and Messages. The Phone app now supports personalized Contact Posts, which let users customize how their contacts appear with a full-screen image. With Live Voicemail, the Phone app will also offer live transcriptions of an ongoing voicemail and allow users to pick up while the caller is still leaving a message.
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The FaceTime app on iOS 17 will let users leave audio or video messages when other users are not available. Apple is also bringing FaceTime to tvOS 17, allowing users to start the call on an iPhone and then hand it off to the Apple TV which will be able to access the iPhone’s camera. This will rely on the same Continuity Camera feature that lets Mac users use their iPhone camera on their Mac.
With iOS 17, the Messages app is getting search filters, a Catch up button to get back to messages you missed in a conversation, as well as transcriptions for audio messages. A new Check In feature will also let users notify family members and friends that they’ve arrived at their destination safely. Moreover, a new Autocorrect model will be able to fix more typos, and iOS 17 also introduces a more accurate speech recognition model.
To simplify contact sharing between iPhones, a new AirDrop-powered “NameDrop” feature will allow two iPhone users to share contacts by just bringing their devices close to each other. This same gesture will also work for sharing other types of content or kicking off a shared activity via SharePlay.
Apple will also launch a new Journal app on iOS 17, which will invite users to write their thoughts about their life’s moments. To get started, the app will offer personalized suggestions including contacts, locations, music, and more, and an API will allow developers to add journaling suggestions to their apps. Apple is also adding mental health features to its Health app, which is also coming to iPadOS 17 (but the Journal app isn’t).
The last big feature coming to iOS 17 is StandBy, which turns an iPhone into a smart display when it’s on its side and charging. The full-screen experience can display a large clock and replace a digital alarm clock, but it can also display pictures, widgets, and Live activities.
“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,” Apple explained.
iOS 17 will bring many other features later this fall including offline maps, the ability to call Siry by simply saying “Siri,” as well as Assistive Access and other accessibility updates.
iPadOS 17 is getting many of the new features coming to iOS 17, but it’s also catching up with new features Apple introduced on iOS 16 last year. On the Home screen, widgets are now interactive, and the iPadOS Lock Screen is also getting support for widgets and Live activities.
Apple also spent a couple of minutes detailing how iPadOS 17 will make it easier to work with PDFs. The OS will use machine learning to identify fields that users can complete on a form and make it easy to add details such as names and emails from the Contacts app. The Notes app will also let users add multiple PDFs in the same note and collaborate on them in real-time.
The other highlights of iPadOS 17 include the iOS Health app finally coming to the big screen with an optimized design. Apple is also improving the Stage Manager feature and adding support for built-in cameras on external displays.
Just like iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma will let users place interactive widgets on their desktops so that they’re always visible, but widgets will fade away in the background once users open an app. Through the system-level Continuity feature, Mac users will also be able to access widgets from their iPhones in close proximity or on the same WiFi network.
macOS Ventura will also introduce enhanced video conferencing features that will be compatible with FaceTime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other video conferencing apps. A new Presenter Overlay effect will be able to separate users from their background and display them on top of the content they’re sharing with others.
Safari on macOS Sonoma will add support for user profiles, and it will also let users turn websites into an app in just a couple of clicks. These features have been available on other browsers for years, but it’s good for Apple to finally catch up.
The last main highlight in macOS Sonoma is a new Game Mode that will ensure that games get priority access to CPU and GPU resources. This is quite similar to the Game Mode that Microsoft previously introduced on Windows 10. This Game Mode on macOS Sonoma will also reduce latency with Airpods and Bluetooth controllers, and it will work with any Mac game.
Macs have never been great for playing games, but Apple is really trying to change that. The company also announced today a Game Porting Toolkit that will let developers evaluate how much time it will take them to bring port their game to macOS. Apple will also provide tools to simplify the conversion process.
Later this fall, watchOS 10 will introduce redesigned apps, additional watch faces, and more. From any watch face, users will be able to use the digital crown to check widgets, and the new Smart Stack will provide quick access to timely information.
More apps including Maps, Messages, Weather, and Word Clock will use the entire display to show more information at a glance. Third-party developers will also be able to update their apps to use the entire display.
For cyclists, watchOS 10 will be able to automatically connect to Bluetooth-enabled cycling accessories, such as power meters, speed sensors, and cadence sensors. Cycling workouts will also sync as a live activity on an iPhone.
For hiking activities, the Compass app will be able to generate two new waypoints, one showing the last spot where users had cellular connectivity, and the second one showing the closest emergency call waypoint. In the US, the Maps app now shows a topographic map with elevation details and points of interest.
Lastly, watchOS 10 is getting the same NameDrop feature that’s also coming to iOS 17. The update will also let users play FaceTime video messages and join group FaceTime audio calls.
Again, the first betas of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma, and watchOS 10 are available for developers today. Public betas will follow next month.