New iOS 17 features explained: Everything that’s in the iPhone update, from standby mode to contact sharing

Apple’s latest iPhone operating system, iOS 17, was released earlier this week, and as always it comes with a host of new features to level up your iPhone or iPad.

Among the most notable additions are a night-time standby mode, interactive widgets, pre-recorded FaceTime messages and a new Journal app.

Here’s a rundown of what comes with iOS 17, and how to get it on your device.

What are iOS 17’s new features?

One of the biggest new additions with iOS 17 is the arrival of a new standby mode, which turns your phone into a smart display.

If you put your phone on charge and place it landscape, it will display a customisable screen, including widgets such as a clock, calendar, weather, media and photos.

The iPhone will finally catch up with Android and introduce interactive widgets, letting you control things such as your music and the lights in your home from your home screen, instead of going into an app.

Apple has finally fixed the autocorrect issues that have irritated users for years. Your phone will now learn how you like to text, which means, yes, no more “ducking” corrections.

You can now create your own customisable contact card, which will show up when you call another iPhone user, and you can share these contact cards with others using AirDrop.

For the first time, you will be able to send pre-recorded messages via FaceTime and, when you are receiving a regular voicemail, you will be able to see a live transcription of what the person is saying, helping you to decide if you want to pick up.

Among the most interesting is Personal Voice, which allows people to use type to speak during phone calls and FaceTime conversations, and have their phone speak in their own voice.

It can also be used in real-life conversations, making it a particularly valuable feature for people with speaking difficulties. You can read our full breakdown of how to use Personal Voice here.

There is a new Journal app, which is designed for “appreciating life’s moments and preserving your memories” – think of it like a virtual scrapbook.

A plus button has been added to iMessage that gives you quicker access to the things you send the most, such as photos, audio messages and your location. Search within iMessage has also been improved, allowing you to add multiple filters, making it easier to find a specific message.

A new safety feature called Check In automatically notifies your friend or family member when you arrive at your destination, such as your home.

You can use your own photos to create live stickers, which you can access via the emoji keyboard and use in chats with friends and family.

And when you’re with others who also have iOS 17, you can hold your phones together to launch a Share Play session – this lets you instantly watch content, listen to music and play games in sync.

For a full breakdown of all iOS 17’s features, click here.

How to download iOS 17

If you have automatic updates enabled, iOS 17 should install on your phone without you having to do anything.

However, phones may not always update immediately, so if you want the new iOS as soon as possible, go to your Settings app, tap General, and then Software Update. Once the update is available it will appear here, and you can tap on it to download and install it.

Which phones are compatible with iOS 17?

For the first time, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X will not be compatible with the new update owing to their age.

All new iPhone 15s will come with iOS 17 pre-installed. The following models are also compatible:

  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation or later)

Before you update, it is always a good idea to back up your phone. To do this, go to Settings [your name], tap iCloud, then click iCloud Backup.

You may also need to clear some space on your device for the update. Last year’s iOS 16 update was almost 3GB in size and you can expect similar this time around.

If you want to save data, make sure your phone is connected to Wi-Fi when you perform the iOS 17 update.