In 2023, we can be absolutely certain that Apple will release a new iteration of its iPhone software in the form of iOS 17 to accompany the newest smartphone, the iPhone 15. In fact, if you look around the web, you can already see iOS 17 showing up in data analytics -- which means that somewhere inside a bunker in Apple Park, the company is testing its next best thing for iPhone.
With the announcement of WWDC 2023 and a date for the big event (June 5), here's everything we know so far about the upcoming major iOS release.
iOS 17: What we can expect?
There's still a lot of mystery surrounding the features that we're likely to see in iOS 17. According to Mark Gurman (opens in new tab), iOS 17 was meant to focus on bug fixes and optimizations. However, those plans have apparently changed, and we're now likely to see major new features added to the upcoming iOS release. Here's everything rumored so far:
A completely revamped Control Center
iOS 17 could bring the biggest Control Center redesign in years, if one recent leak is to be believed. The rumors suggests that Control Center will experience "major" changes, possibly the biggest to date -- but stopped short of detailing them.
Control Center has largely gone unchanged for years, with Apple refusing to make the kinds of changes people have been crying out for. Examples include the ability to change what some of Control Center's buttons do, or how they behave when tapped. Overall, many would welcome more customizability, but it remains to be seen if that's what we'll get come update time.
The new CarPlay
At WWDC 22, Apple announced iOS 16 took the wraps off the "next generation of CarPlay." The company promised that support for the interface would come in late 2023 -- just in time for iOS 17, no?
The CarPlay refresh was specifically designed to make better use of cars with multiple screens. Apple says that we should expect a new experience that is "unified and consistent," while the update will also allow CarPlay to tie into a car's built-in systems in a way that is not available with iOS 15.
Since then, we've learned very little, although news about support for the software has emerged. GM dropped a bombshell this Spring when it announced that it was abandoning CarPlay entirely. Ford followed up a few weeks later with confirmation that it would support the platform. What will WWDC 2023 bring?
Sideloading third-party apps
European iPhone users are likely to get access to sideloading third-party apps like the Alt Store in iOS 17. The European legislation requires Apple to open the operating system to third-party applications starting in 2024, so it would make sense to see these shackles unlocked in iOS 17.
VR Reality Pro Headset support
With the rumors surrounding the Apple VR Reality Pro headset ramping up, it's likely that iOS 17 will implement integration between Apple's newest device and its most beloved one. Who knows what this could look like, but expect at least Handoff functionality.
Third-party browsers unleashed
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman (opens in new tab), has also claimed that Apple could remove the requirement for third-party web browsers to use WebKit, the browser engine that powers Safari. This could mean using Google Chrome on iOS 17 would be similar to its desktop counterpart rather than living in the shadows of mobile Safari.
"Currently, third-party web browsers, including ones like Chrome from Alphabet Inc.'s Google, are required to use WebKit, Apple's Safari browsing engine. Under the plan to meet the new law, Apple is considering removing that mandate."
iOS 17: New security and encryption features
Apple announced three advanced security tools in December that it said will be available globally in 2023: iMessage Contact Key Verification, Security Keys for Apple ID, and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud. Given that the features have yet to launch, they are most likely to be included as part of iOS 17.
With iMessage Contact Key Verification, Apple promises users will soon be able to verify they are communicating only with who they intend. The new technology is ideally suited for anyone who faces "extraordinary digital threats," such as human rights activities, journalists, and government officials, although anyone can use the verification tool.
These changes will effectively put Apple's cloud storage system "out of reach of most hackers, spies and law enforcement," Apple said
iOS 17: What design changes are coming?
New leaks and renders have offered a sneak peek at the design changes coming to Wallet, Health, and Wallpapers in iOS 17. The changes aren't huge, but they reflect the tweaked UI we can expect to see in iOS 17. So what do they suggest?
Well, there will be a new Wallpaper picker screen for iOS 17. The leaked render shows off a grid view that will let you delete and rearrange wallpapers. Next up is the Health app, which is getting a "favorites redesign," again showing off a grid view giving all the key information at a glance. Last is the new Wallet app, which seems to be the biggest design change of them all.
The leaker claimed that iOS 17 will bring a lot of changes to the Wallet app, including swipe down to search, sorted tabs, a dedicated Apple Cash tab and all transactions button, and more. Mark Gurman, who has one of the better track records with Apple leaks, actually responded to this tweet confirming that the Wallet app was indeed getting revamped, which adds a bit more credibility to these renders, which the leaker claims are based on iOS 17 designs they have seen.
Which iPhones will get iOS 17?
iOS 17 will be available on all of Apple's current best iPhones, including the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro, as well as the upcoming iPhone 15. For the first time since iOS 13, Apple dropped support for some iPhones with the release of iOS 16, namely the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 lines, as well as the first-generation iPhone SE.
That leaves the iPhone's A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X as the oldest supported devices. If Apple does drop any support this year, expect it to be for those three devices. However, Apple has an excellent track record of providing long support for devices, so it's possible that all the devices that support iOS 16 will also get iOS 17.
When will iOS 17 be available?
The iOS 17 release is fast approaching. Apple will hold its annual Worldwide Developer Conference from June 5 to June 9, with a special in-person event on the opening day, where it will unveil iOS 17.
Beta access should start on that same day, but iOS 17 won't be rolled out to regular users until later in the year, likely in September, alongside the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. Last year, iOS 16 was released to the public on September 12. A good guess for 2023 would be a very similar timeline.
How can I get iOS 17?
iOS 17's public release will be released through Apple's usual software update channel. That means it will be available to download on your iPhone in the Settings app, under the General heading in the Software Update section.
At WWDC on June 5, Apple is likely to start distributing the first developer beta which means the iOS 17 public beta could be available before the end of June. When the public beta does release, here's how to install it:
- Make a backup of your iPhone
- Head to Apple’s public beta website (opens in new tab)
- Sign in to your Apple ID
- Tap iOS, swipe down, and tap enroll your iOS device
- Swipe down and tap Download Profile
- Tap Allow to download the profile
- Open Settings and tap Profile Downloaded at the top
- Tap Install
- Read the consent agreement, then tap Install again
- Your iPhone will prompt you to restart
- After your device reboots, head to Software Update in Settings and Install the iOS 17 public beta
iOS 17: iMore's expert opinion
So what would we at iMore like to see in iOS 17? Here's what our team of experts had to say:
Tammy Rogers - Staff Writer:
"Even more lock screen customization would be my number one. Let's go beyond just the text of the clock, let me put more widgets and choose what the two shortcut buttons do."
Daryl Baxter - Features Editor
"Redesign the camera app - after 16 years it's too cluttered to pick which mode is best for the moment, and trying to switch between them, especially slo-mo 120FPS and 240FPS is too long to do. Let's see a simpler user interface, and maybe some other colors than black to make it more fun to use."
John-Anthony Disotto - How-To Editor
"A better use of the Dynamic Island so I can actually use it for something other than timers. I would like notifications to be more connected to the Island so that it feels more incorporated into my device rather than another TouchBar"
Stephen Warwick - News Editor
"I am begging you to please just fix Siri. Somehow, the virtual assistant has got worse since it was launched, and can't even handle the most basic, primitive tasks. We need way more on-device control to stop long wait times, and Siri really needs to figure out handling basic requests again. Also please let us use the Xbox Cloud Gaming app natively and not via the web."
iOS 17: Looking forward to it
iOS 17 isn't as far away as you might think, and we have plenty to look forward to. However, the year of Apple Reality Pro might well detract from Apple's software this year, especially if it's true that Apple is sending more resources that way at the expense of its iPhone software.
Given that iOS 16 wasn't a massive overhaul, hopefully, Apple has some significant changes under wraps alongside bugs and speed improvements coming to iOS 17.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9
- John-Anthony DisottoHow To Editor