Apple’s voicemail update and mental health prompts headline iOS 17 changes

Apple’s latest software update is available and it promises to make iPhones more “personal and intuitive”.

Before the iPhone 15’s release on September 22, Apple has revealed the biggest changes coming to iOS 17, the free software that can be updated on all compatible devices.

Incoming calls are getting a facelift, real-time voicemail transcriptions are coming in, and people will be able to easily document their moods with a new health feature.

Here are some of the biggest changes iPhone users can expect.

Update to incoming calls, FaceTime

With iOS 17, users can make ‘personalised contact posters’ for known contacts, even on third-party apps.

“Contact posters can be personalised with … photos, memoji and eye-catching typography and font colours,” Apple said in a press release.

If you miss a call, then live voicemail provides a transcript in real time, when someone leaves a message.

People will also be able to enable ‘silence unknown callers’, so all unknown numbers are instantly directed to live voicemail. 

Any numbers identified as spam will be instantly declined.

apple contact posters

Contact Posters add a personal touch.

With iOS 17, people will be able to leave video or audio messages on FaceTime to “capture exactly what they want to say when someone they call is not available”.

Apple also promises FaceTime calls will be “more expressive”, thanks to ‘reactions’, which include hearts, balloons, fireworks and laser beams.

The reactions can be activated by “simple gestures” on the call.

People can also chat on FaceTime using a big screen, with people being able to connect to Apple TV 4K.

“To see friends and family on the big screen, users can use ‘continuity camera’ to start a FaceTime call on iPhone and hand it off to Apple TV, or initiate the FaceTime call directly from their Apple TV,” Apple said.

“With ‘centre stage’, users stay perfectly framed even as they move around the room.”

Fun with messages, better auto-correct

Messages can be customised with an all-new sticker experience. And iPhone users will be able to create live stickers from their photos to share over text.

Apple has added an important in-built feature to messages, that will give family and friends peace of mind.

‘Check in’ allows people to notify their loved ones when they have made it to their destination safely.

“After a user starts a check in, their contact will automatically be notified as soon as they arrive,” Apple said.

pictured is the new Apple check in feature

Apple has made it easier to check in with family and friends.

“If they are not making progress toward their destination, useful information, such as the device’s location, battery level and mobile network status, is temporarily shared with the selected contact in a secure and private way.”

Auto-correct is getting a whole new transformer language model, which promises to improve the experience and accuracy every time someone types.

Sentence-level autocorrections can fix more types of grammatical mistakes, and the refreshed design better supports typing by temporarily underlining corrected words and allowing users to revert back with just a tap,” Apple said.

“Inline predictive text helps quickly finish sentences, while dictation’s new speech recognition model brings improved accuracy.”

Mental health check-in

With the iOS 17 update, people will be able to keep track of their daily moods and emotions.

Apple said the mental health features, which can be found in the health app, could help people pinpoint what is contributing to their emotions.

The health app will also make it easier for people to access depression and anxiety assessments often used in clinics and have local resources listed.

Pictured is the Apple Health app

Apple has added mental health resources to its health app.

To complement screen time, where people can see how much they are using their phone, people will be encouraged to move their device further away from them, using the TrueDepth camera.

People will be prompted to move their phone further away from them, after holding it closer than 30 centimetres to their face for an extended period of time.

“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,” Apple said.

Build a new habit

The new journal app complements the mental health check-in feature and will allow people to reflect on special moments and events.

“To help inspire a user’s journal entry, personalised suggestions can be intelligently curated from a user’s recent activity, such as photos, people, places, workouts and more, and scheduled notifications can help build a journalling habit,” Apple said.

People will be able to lock the app, which is encrypted so no one can access entries.

Grocery lists in reminders will allow people to automatically add items to relevant categories, in hopes of making grocery shopping a little easier.

“Users can change how the items are grouped, and the list remembers their preferences,” Apple said.

A full list of the iOS 17 features can be found here.

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