There’s a very good chance that the unveiling of iOS 17 is overshadowed by at least one product announcement. After a couple of solid release cycles, iOS 16 was released with a bunch of bugs, and things have only gotten marginally better since then. But with WWDC 2023 expected to be announced any day now, what should you expect from the next major iOS announcement?
In what has become a trend over the past few years, Apple has a tendency of launching a bunch of new and exciting features one year, followed by a rather lackluster update a year later. Many indications point to this being the case with iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 following a rather rough launch of iOS 16.
There were many who purchased the iPhone 14 on day one, only to find that their phones could not work properly until an emergency software patch was released. Another major issue, for iPad owners, has been the incredibly sloppy and unreliable integration of Stage Manager. Apple announced the feature at WWDC ’22, but ended up delaying it until iPadOS 16.1, which arrived in October, a month after iPadOS 16.
With the exception of the next section, we expect Apple to “take it easy” with the release of iOS and iPadOS 17. More of a focus should be on the refinement of the platform, buffing out any rough edges and providing an experience that we have come to expect.
As we touched on in our breakdown of what to expect from WWDC ’23, Apple is rumored to announce its first AR/VR headset at the developer event. However, in order to provide proper compatibility with our devices and apps, iOS 17 will undoubtedly include many of the necessary features in order for the new headset to work.
Little is known about what this headset will actually do, aside from rumors that it will provide both an Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality aspect. From there, not much else is known outside of rumors, with the exception of a recent leak that allegedly showed off some of the internal hardware of the headset.
Everything is lining up for Apple’s AR/VR headset to be the company’s most important product launch of the last five years. And the company has a lot riding on the success of this device, despite rumors that it will be priced at around $3,000.
For the first time since the launch of the App Store back in July 2008, this has continued to be the only official method for installing apps on your iPhone or iPad. Over the years, other options have appeared, but still require frustrating workarounds.
For example, Cydia was widely known as the “go-to” place to install apps on jailbroken iPhone and iPad devices. But more recently, AltStore has arrived as an alternative app store if you want to download certain apps, such as retro game emulators and more.
In late 2022, it was reported by Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, that Apple is “preparing to allow alternative app stores on its iPhones and iPads.” This may come as quite a shock, considering the control that Apple has over its platform, and allowing additional methods for installing apps could open the door for issues.
However, this comes after pressure following the European Union announcing that Apple would be required to allow for sideloading by 2024. Instead of waiting around until the last minute, it’s rumored that Apple has already been working to open sideloading on the iPhone and iPad. If this comes to fruition, iOS 17 should usher in a new wave of apps and perhaps even revitalize the platform a bit, as developers won’t need to pay Apple’s 15% to 30% fees.
As we’ve noted in the past, Apple is well-known for providing iOS updates to its devices for quite a bit longer than the competition. One example of this is the fact that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are still supported by the latest version of iOS. For reference, this is the list of devices that are compatible with the final version of iOS 16:
- iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max
- iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max
- iPhone SE (2022)
- iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone XS and XS Max
- iPhone SE (2020)
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
It’s possible that we see a couple of those devices dropped from the list, including the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Considering that Apple recently discontinued the iPod Touch with its A10 chipset, it would make sense for Apple to shorten the list a bit for a revamped iOS 17. That’s not to say that Apple will drop support altogether, but we wouldn’t be shocked if the feature set is different for older devices.
When Will iOS 17 Be Released?
If you’re wondering when you’ll be able to get your hands on iOS 17, developers will have a head start, as always. Apple is expected to release the first iOS 17 Developer Beta after the WWDC ’23 Keynote has been completed. From there, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a Public Beta for at least a month, meaning that non-developers wouldn’t be able to get their hands on the software until sometime in July.
As for the final release, it’s not going to be all that different from years past. The final version of iOS 17 is likely to be released in the Fall, alongside the new iPhone 15 and Apple Watch Series 9, and perhaps Apple’s first AR/VR headset.
It’s always fun to speculate and analyze what the rumor mill claims Apple will do when it comes to the release of new software and hardware. But after spending almost a year with iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, here are a few things we want to see from iOS 17.
Widgets have been around on the iPhone since the release of iOS 14, and while the company has made a few improvements, there’s still room to grow. What we want to see iOS 17 implement is the ability to interact with widgets without actually needing to open the app.
It’s one thing to be able to view information at a glance, but it’s something else entirely if you have to open an app before interacting with it. Just one example of how useful interactive widgets could be is if you have a widget for Things 3 and want to be able to add a reminder with the tap of a button.
It’s technically possible now, but the “button” is more there for show and just opens the app anyways. We would love it if Apple just made all of the widgets more interactive.
Improved Siri Reliability and Functionality
Despite being the first company to implement and use an on-device digital assistant, Siri is woefully behind the competition. Google Assistant is largely considered to be the best, and even with slowdowns in development Amazon Alexa still comes in second.
It’s great and all for Apple to add new Siri voices with the latest release of iOS, but that doesn’t really do anything to improve its usefulness. We can’t even count how many times Siri has misheard a request being made, only to provide results that make no sense. And honestly, I’ve resorted to relying on Google Assistant instead, thanks to the power of Shortcuts and widgets.
As a concept, Stage Manager seems like a pretty cool way for you to actually multitask and use more than just split-screen or SlideOver on the iPad. However, Apple’s implementation appears to be better suited to the Mac, let alone that Stage Manager seems to just work better overall compared to the iPad.
Following a lot of pushback after Apple was found to be “gatekeeping” the feature from older hardware, the company reversed its course. There are still limitations, but what we would really prefer is for Apple to actually fix Stage Manager, or remove it completely. Of course, we would love a true multitasking interface with the ability to easily resize windows, in addition to compatibility with external monitors.
But at this rate, it almost feels like Stage Manager is a lost cause and one that Apple should just cut ties with.
On one hand, the App Library is a great way for you to see all of the different apps you have installed on your iPhone or iPad. But on the other, it’s an absolute mess. All of the apps installed on your device are automatically placed into different categories, and there is no way for you to move an app from one folder to another.
Apple doesn’t even make it possible for you to rename the different “folders” or “bundles,” instead leaving you to try and figure out where an app is. It feels much like the Today View on our devices, which is just a legacy way to view widgets, despite App Library being a newer “feature”.
At the very least, iOS 17 should introduce the ability to customize the App Library in some way. Whether it’s through renaming the bundles or allowing the user to pick and choose which apps go where, something has to give.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.