iOS 17: the 10 most useful new features and how to install the new iPhone operating system

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This Monday, Apple launched the final version of its new operating system: iOS 17. Its predecessor, iOS 16, stood out for alerts to remember to take medications and tools that seek to help victims of gender violence. Now iOS 17 launches a function to share contact information between two users by simply bringing their iPhone together and also launches a service to notify a family member or friend that you have reached a destination or send them an alert if not. In addition, it incorporates a mode to turn the iPhone into a kind of smart screen, while it charges, and sends alerts to the user to prevent eye fatigue.

Notice of Arrival

“Raise your hand if you promised to send a text message to someone to let them know you got home safe… and forgot!” says Apple when presenting its new operating system. The arrival notification function is designed to communicate that a user has arrived at a destination and reassure anyone concerned about their safety on that journey. It is activated through the iPhone’s Messages app and is only available if both people have iOS 17 installed on their mobile.

After choosing a contact, you must click on the + symbol (to the left of the box to enter text), select the More option and choose the Arrival notification option. You can then set a timer (selecting how long you think it will take to get to a location) or enter an address. The iPhone knows where the user is going at all times and, if they do not approach their destination or do not arrive at the scheduled time, they will receive a notification about their own delay, to which they will have to respond within 15 minutes. If you do not do so, a notice will be sent to the chosen person and some data previously selected by the user will be shared with them; for example, the location of the device, the distance taken, the battery status and coverage.

This feature will probably be useful for some people when returning home alone. “It’s sad that I have to be happy because they invented the iPhone arrival notification, but I’m very happy,” comments a user on X (formerly Twitter). In the tests carried out by this newspaper, the arrival notification has worked correctly with some contacts, but it could not be activated with others. EL PAÍS has contacted Apple to ask about it and will update the information when it receives a response.


The standby mode is designed to take advantage of the mobile phone when it is not being used and turn it into a kind of smart screen. When loaded in landscape position, it shows the clock, calendar, photos, a music player and widgets, “designed to be seen from afar” according to Apple. This mode invites you to leave your phone out of the way, as it allows you to consult basic information and see what notifications arrive without having to pick it up and unlock it.

This function may be interesting if you have a charging base that keeps the mobile phone horizontal on the bedside table, kitchen counter or desk. If not, it also works when charging it and resting the phone on a table and a wall or an object, but it is quite uncomfortable. The screens in this way are somewhat reminiscent of the Apple Watch faces. This would be an example of how Apple often develops a feature in one of its devices and then extrapolates it to others.

Sequence of steps in using Call Notification, one of the most useful new features of iOS 17.
Sequence of steps in using Call Notification, one of the most useful new features of iOS 17.

Exchange contacts

Writing down phone numbers or emails can sometimes be a bit tedious, especially if done frequently. To make the process easier, Apple has launched NameDrop: a feature to “exchange contact information with someone you just met by simply holding your iPhone together.” By bringing the top of both phones together, a connection is established and the terminals offer the possibility of exchanging contact information instantly. The user can choose which emails and phone numbers they want to share.

This function, which can be especially useful at work events, is only available if both devices have iOS 17 installed. To use it, you must enter the phone’s Settings app, access the General section, select the AirDrop option and, therefore, Lastly, choose the option “all for 10 minutes”. In the tests carried out by this newspaper, the exchange of name, email and telephone number has worked correctly; However, the image associated with each contact has not been shared.

Contact Poster

The contact poster is a kind of modern business card designed for when you make a call. “Customize how you want to show up and express yourself when you message, call, and share content with your friends,” Apple says. To create your own, you must access the Contacts app, click on My card and choose the “poster and contact photo” option. Then you have to enter the name as you want to display it, in addition to choosing an image (which can be a photograph, a memoji or a monogram with your initials). Likewise, it is possible to create a poster for any other contact saved in the phonebook (even if you don’t have an iPhone). An alternative to obtain attractive results is to choose photos captured with portrait mode.

Joining the top part of two phones with iOS 17 allows you to exchange contact information instantly.
Joining the top part of two phones with iOS 17 allows you to exchange contact information instantly.Isabel Rubio

Interactive widgets

On the home screen, with iOS 17 come interactive widgets. The widgets They are microapplications that facilitate access to certain mobile functions and, now, being interactive, they allow the user to perform more actions without having to enter an app. For example, there are widgets that allow you to mark a reminder as completed or play music or a podcast, right from the home screen.

Leave video messages on FaceTime

If calling someone on FaceTime is not available, the user can leave them a video message. Simply tap “record video” after attempting the call and you can review the recording before sending it. When the recipient views the video, they can choose to respond with a message or another FaceTime video call. This function is reminiscent of the typical voicemail, but since it is a video it is much more attractive.

Transcription of audio messages

Audio messages sent through the Messages app on iPhone are now automatically transcribed so anyone can read them now and listen to them later. This function can be very useful for those users who normally use this app and is missing in other instant messaging services, such as WhatsApp. In the tests carried out by this newspaper, the transcription has been done without errors.

A daily record of emotions

Apple has been trying to gain a foothold in the health market for years. If last year iOS 16 introduced reminders to take medications, iOS 17 has a function designed to record emotions and moods. The user can indicate how they feel at a certain moment, or also their general mood throughout the day. You can choose between very bad, bad, somewhat bad, normal, somewhat good, good or very good.

Sequence of steps for recording moods in the iOS 17 Health app.
Sequence of steps for recording moods in the iOS 17 Health app.

“What best defines what you feel?” the Health app then asks. The user can choose several options, such as “fascination, surprise, passion, happiness, relief, gratitude, overwhelm, exhaustion, anxiety, guilt or embarrassment.” Then, you can indicate what affects you the most among different categories such as health, sports, personal care, hobbies, family, friends, your partner, tasks, work, travel, weather or weather. money. The user can receive reminders every day to record how they feel.

“Mental health evaluations help you understand your current risk of depression and anxiety and whether it would be appropriate to seek help,” the company states. We must not forget that this type of data is especially sensitive. In theory, according to the company, they are encrypted, so that without the user’s permission no one can access them, not even Apple.

Screen distance

Eye fatigue related to electronic screens affects people of all ages, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology: “If you spend entire hours a day using these digital devices, you may notice that you have blurry vision, and that his eyes are sore and tired. You may also notice that your eyes dryand they cry or sting.”

In addition to blinking and looking into the distance for a few seconds, it is advisable not to get too close to the mobile. Apple has launched the “screen distance” feature, which uses the True-Depth camera (the same as facial recognition) and “reminds you to move your iPhone away if you have brought it closer than 30 centimeters for a period of time dragged on”. To activate it, you must enter the Usage Time section, within the Settings app, and activate the “screen distance” option.

live voicemail

There are interesting features of iOS 17 – such as collaborative music lists or the Diary app – will arrive in the coming months, according to Apple. Some have been launched, for now, only in English (such as the option to just say “Siri” (instead of “hey, Siri”) to invoke the AI ​​assistant. And other new features are only available in the United States and Canada; this Last is the case of Live Voicemail. With this function, Apple assures that “you will be able to see the real-time transcriptions of the answering machine messages and decide if you want to take the call while you are receiving it.” “All the transcriptions that are managed on the device are done while preserving privacy and if you have the ‘silence unknown numbers’ option activated, they will go directly to voicemail without bothering you at all,” says the technology giant.

How to install iOS 17

The new operating system is available for the iPhone XS and later models. To install it, you must enter the iPhone Settings app, click on the General section and then on Software Update; then the option to Update to iOS 17 will appear. By doing so, the update is first downloaded, then prepared, and finally installed. In tests carried out by this newspaper, the process took approximately one hour. If Automatic Updates is enabled, the operating system will download and install itself overnight; Of course, for this the iPhone must be charging and connected to a Wi-Fi network.

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