Apple is expected to debut iOS 17 in just a few months, with the software update set to bring changes to the company's first-party apps and improvements to the overall experience of using the best iPhones.
Although competitor Google has already released Android 14 for testing (and teased some of the features it’s going to introduce), Apple typically keeps shtum about what its next iOS updates will bring to the table. That said, we'll almost certainly hear more at WWDC (Apple's annual developer conference) in June, ahead of the iPhone 15 series' launch in September.
Despite the lack of official information surrounding iOS 17, we do already have some idea of what the update might look like, and below, we've rounded up the latest info. We've also included brief wishlist of what we’d love to see introduced come September, and we'll be updating this article as more rumors and reports emerge, too, so make sure to check back regularly.
A report from BloomBerg's Mark Gurman begins to fill in some of the "most requested features" he alluded to in a previous newsletter. Gurman expects Apple to add app sideloading to iOS in iOS 17. The EUs incoming regulations can be credited for it.
iOS 17: Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next big update for iOS – the iPhone's operating system
- When does it come out? Expected to drop in the middle of September
- How much does it cost? It'll be a free upgrade
- Which phones are supported? Conflicting reports, but possibly iPhone 11 and newer
iOS 17 release date
iOS 17 is expected to be released on or around the middle of September, to coincide with the expected iPhone 15 launch. Before that, Apple will unveil iOS 17 at WWDC (World Wide Developer's Conference) in June. Apple has announced WWDC 2023 for June 5, with the event set to "spotlight the latest iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS advancements".
Shortly after WWDC, Apple will release two beta versions of iOS – a developer preview, and a public build. The public beta is often reliable enough to use on a daily phone about a month or two after the program starts.
iOS 17 availability
We've heard conflicting reports surrounding the availability of iOS 17.
According to a one MacRumors (opens in new tab) source “with a proven track record,” iOS 17 will drop support for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, while iPadOS 17 will shun the first-generation iPad Pro (both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch models) and fifth-generation iPad. All six devices were released between November 2015 and November 2017.
If that rumor rings true, Apple will have dropped support for almost all devices running the A11 Bionic chip or older with its next major software updates. The sixth- and seventh-generation iPad, as well as the second-generation iPad Pro, will reportedly be exceptions to the rule.
However, a second reputable leaker – the very same individual who first hinted that the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will feature Apple’s Dynamic Island – has since counterclaimed (opens in new tab) that iOS 17 will be compatible with all iPhones capable of running iOS 16.
At this stage, then, there's little certainty around which iPhones will (and won’t) be supported by iOS 17 – but we're inclined to believe that the former rumor has more weight.
Apple routinely drops support for older devices with every new edition of iOS and iPadOS – the iPhone 6s, iPhone 7 and iPad Air 2 were among the models left behind by iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, for instance – and both the iPhone X and iPhone 8 are now five years old, which is usually grounds for the chopping block.
Incidentally, if your iPhone does qualify for Apple's next big update, it'll likely download iOS 17 automatically (opens in new tab). iOS 16.4 introduced a code that makes iPhone updates download by default, with Apple evidently hoping that the change will ensure that most people are running the latest version of iOS.
iOS 17 rumored features
When it comes to iOS 17’s features, one thing we can be reasonably sure about is that we won’t see a lot of big additions, like the lock screen or home screen widget upgrades that came with previous releases.
However, although Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman had previously reported (opens in new tab) that development on the Apple VR headset would lead to “fewer major changes” for iOS 17, the seasoned Apple expert has since claimed (opens in new tab) that the upcoming update will actually provide several of users’ “most requested features.”
“When Apple set out to develop iOS 17, the initial thinking was to call it a tuneup release – one focused more on fixing bugs and improving performance than adding new features,” Gurman wrote in a recent newsletter. “The hope was to avoid the problems of iOS 16, an ambitious update that suffered from missed deadlines and a buggy start. But later in the development process, the strategy changed.
“The iOS 17 release is now expected to boast several ‘nice to have’ features, even if it lacks a tentpole improvement like last year's revamped lock screen. The goal of the software, codenamed Dawn, is to check off several of users' most requested features.”
As Gurman notes, it’s unlikely that iOS 17 will introduce any major overhauls to the experience of using the best iPhones, since much of the high-hanging fruit – personalized iOS lock screens, custom keyboards and so on – has been fulfilled by Apple in recent years. Instead, iOS 17 will more likely offer a range of significant updates to existing iPhone features and apps, like CarPlay, Siri, and Messages. Gurman later added in a later newsletter entry that he expected Apple to add app sideloading to iOS 17. This move would come as a result of EU regulations which were adopted in 2022 with a compliance deadline for tech companies by March 2024. To quickly summarise, the regulations require platform owners like Apple to open up app installations to third-party app stores and websites. As with USB-C, Apple had no choice but to adopt.
As for other rumored iOS 17 features, they've all been in line with what Gurman's reported -- though they haven't come from sources are reliable as him. The most recent leak comes from Twitter user analyst941 (opens in new tab), who claims that "performance, efficiency, stability, and long-term support for older devices are the main features of [the] update.”
According to the analyst941, the new features in development are as follows:
- Additional settings for the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always-On Display
- Additional filters for Focus modes
- “Changes and additional options” for managing notifications
- Custom Accessibility Mode
- Car Key “improvements” and “more car implementations into the Wallet app”
- UI changes to the Health app, including changes to the “Favorites” interface
- “Heavily improved” features for Search and Spotlight
- “An absolute behemoth of ARKit API’s/frameworks”
- “The Dynamic Island will do a lot more”
- “Camera app changes; these were initially planned for the iPhone 14 Pro release, and MAY only be implemented into iPhone 15’s OS, rather than all iOS 17 devices”
- “Active widgets” that will “bring one-tap buttons, sliders, and more” to help make widgets more “dynamic"
Despite the long list above, these changes do seem to be more superficial than substantial, corroborating Gurman's aforementioned comments regarding the lack of "tentpole improvement[s]" set to be brought about by iOS 17.
We've heard some specifics regarding the updates set to come to Siri, too. analyst941 reports that iOS 17 could shift Siri's on-screen interface away from the bottom of the iPhone screen and up into the Dynamic Island on compatible devices.
In its current form, Siri appears as an animated sphere when invoked with a button press or the "Hey Siri" command, while answers to user queries are displayed at the top of the iPhone screen with background content dimmed. Presumably, moving Siri’s interface up into the Dynamic Island would make the voice assistant appear less intrusive.
For obvious reasons, this change will only apply to iPhones that feature the Dynamic Island – which, at present, is the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max (aka the best iPhones money can buy). However, we’re almost certain that Apple’s quirky digital notch will be finding its way onto every device in this year’s iPhone 15 lineup, so we could see Siri moving home on the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and much-rumored iPhone 15 Ultra, too.
As for the other changes iOS 17 is expected to bring to Siri, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports – in his latest Power On newsletter (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab) – that users may soon only need to say “Siri” instead of “Hey Siri” when activating the personal assistant.
This would bring Apple’s assistant in line with Amazon’s Alexa, which has only required users to say “Alexa” since its launch in 2014. Gurman suggests that the change could be implemented with iOS 17 either this year or next.
iOS 17 wishlist
1. Super Siri
ChatGPT is taking the world by storm, and Google and Microsoft have been quick to react. Apple set the world on fire with the launch of Siri, alongside the iPhone 4S, but the digital assistant still has yet to reach its full potential. As generative AI models grow in popularity, the large and very engaged iPhone user base would give Apple an advantage over its competitors, if it launched its own GPT-powered chatbot.
If those aforementioned Siri rumors are anything to go by, Siri will be getting a sizeable upgrade with iOS 17 – but we're hoping to see more than just aesthetic changes come to Apple's personal assistant.
2. Improved notifications
This particular wish comes as standard – and goes ungranted – with every Apple update. The company has worked to slightly tweak iOS notifications every year, but they’re still horribly mediocre. There’s limited notification bundling or quick-reply support, and actionable notifications are still few and far between compared to Android.
Every year, we hope that Apple will bring Notification Center up to par – and every year Apple does the equivalent of placing a smiley band-aid on a gaping wound. Sometimes, Apple likes to do things its own way, and that’s fine; in this case, however, it's time for the company to swallow its pride and do the done thing.
3. RCS support
RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is gaining popularity on Android phones. It essentially turns basic SMS messaging into the equivalent of more modern apps, like iMessage or Facebook Messenger. Now, it’s not necessary for Apple to make RCS work on iPhones, but it would be better than the plain old SMS we currently have.
You can see when someone's typing, get read receipts, send larger files and more. It’s an emerging standard – much like USB-C – and in countries where texting via the Messages app is more common than something like WhatsApp or Telegram, there’s no downside to upgrading the Messages experience for everyone, as iOS users who prefer not to enable iMessage for one reason or another will also to make use of RCS' additional functionality without compromise.