A week has passed since Apple's week-long Worldwide Developer Conference took place in Cupertino. The Keynote on Monday, June 5th, saw new hardware announcements and previews of upcoming new software features. My interest, as always with Apples keynote, is the iOS/iPadOS section.
Here are some of the new and improved features in iOS 17 that caught my attention, based on current and future anticipated practical use of these features:
Stage Manager on the iPad
I never disliked the current iteration of Stage Manager on the iPad, but I am glad Apple listened to feedback and addressed one of the most requested functionalities; the ability to resize and move windows with more flexibility and freedom. I activated Stage Manager on the iPad after installing the iPadOS beta, and this has been the longest I have had the feature activated. It has opened up a whole new way of multi-window use on my iPad.
Collaborative Playlists and SharePlay in CarPlay
My daughters and I have a reliance on music in our daily lives. We have similar tastes in genres we listen to and sometimes share music we discover, via iMessage. Collaborative Playlist (Coming later this year) is about to make our lives easier by enabling us to add, reorder or delete songs in a collaborative playlist of our favourite songs.
My eldest, occasionally, likes taking over the music in my car to play some of her playlists, which means having to first disconnect my phone and connect her phone as the primary device to use CarPlay with. SharePlay in CarPlay, which when initiated through Apple CarPlay, will allow passengers to scan a QR code on the car infotainment screen to immediately take control of the music playing from their devices, even without a Music sub.
Offline Maps and Enhanced Electric vehicle routing in Apple Maps
The introduction of multi-stop destination routing in iOS 16 provided a huge benefit to my daily driving. Now with the added ability to download maps for offline use — Finally — I can spend less time feeling frustrated when in an area with poor cell reception trying to piece together a multi-stop route.
I switched to a Battery Electric Vehicle just under a year ago. Although I conveniently charge my vehicle at home overnight when needed and currently have no reliance on public network charging, I do plan to take a few long trips this summer. The ability to see real-time charging station information by your preferred charging network on your chosen route in Apple Maps is a welcome addition.
I have been using Apple Maps exclusively for more than eight years (before I had an Apple CarPlay-enabled vehicle) and have not looked back since. During this time, I have not had any major Apple Map mishaps that made me consider using anything else. With the improvements to Apple Maps, it will continue to be my default navigation provider.
The biggest practical uses of interactive widgets on my devices as of writing this has been checking off Reminders tasks, initiating and stopping media playback on Apple Music and Podcast, and accessing controls on the Home app. The convenience it provides, especially on large widgets on the iPad, makes me look forward to seeing how third-party developers will add controllable functionalities to their app widgets.
Privacy and Accessibility
With new privacy features introduced with major OS releases, Apple's continued stance on user privacy is going from strength to strength. In iOS and iPadOS 17, I particularly like the Link Tracking Protection in Messages, Mail, and Safari private browsing which strips the extra tracking information added to URLs to track users across other websites as you browse.
The new end-to-end encrypted Check-In feature allows users to automatically let family and friends know they’ve reached their destination safely, which helps provide peace of mind for family and friends, and security for the user.
I use timers practically every day at home, especially when cooking. Until now, I relied on using Siri to quickly add multiple reminders to the Reminders app, which means spending time later on clearing completed reminders, which is not a burden but a practice I could do without.
Multiple timers in iOS 17 with Live Activity countdown on your Lock Screen and Dynamic Island beats the use of the Reminders app for simple timers.
Every so often you have to celebrate the small wins after waiting years on simple absent missing features that finally make their way on iOS.
Hey Siri - need I say more?
On the surface, based on what Apple previewed, iOS 17, to some, may not look like a significant update, but there’s far more to this update than meets the eye. I cannot wait to see how much more improved these new features will get throughout the beta period and beyond.