WWDC 2023: iOS 17 gets a new AI-driven Journal app, new lock screen mode, offline maps and more

Apple’s WWDC, the Cupertino giant’s flagship annual developer’s conference is here, and it is surely bringing more flair and finesse to the company’s already highly-capable operating systems. Apple announced the iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 today and both of them are getting nifty new features, that would make the overall “ecosystem” experience, even better.

While the main focus was on Apple’s AR/VR headset and the new Macs, the Cupertino-headquartered tech giant also lifted the veil off its new operating systems at the annual developer conference. To start with, Apple noted that it is bringing updates to autocorrect courtesy of generative AI and its new underlying language model. Typing on iPhone is “better than ever,” said Apple’s Craig Federighi. On iPadOS 17, users now get a generative AI-powered PDF editor, which automatically identifies fillable fields in a PDF file and also suggests possible inputs.

Both iPadOS and iOS 17 get a new docking lock screen mode, called ‘StandBy’. This new feature lets users use their iPhones and iPads even when the device is on a nightstand or desk. Standby can be activated once the iPhone is set down or docked. It can show a cluster of widgets or a simple clock in a night-sensitive color, and looks really cool as a home device when your phone or tablet is not in use.

On the communication front, all three core apps — Phone, Facetime and iMessage — are getting updates. The Phone app is getting personalized contact posters that appear when you give people a call. It’s part of your Contact card for a consistent look in how you communicate. The personalized contact posters, Apple notes, is integrated with third-party apps, which means that users are going to start to see it to their phone apps in the near future. The posters come with profile pictures and colourful, customizable textual elements as well.

The personalized contact posters look similar to customizing your lock screen, and extends to the contact cards of users. And if this is not enough, Apple is also bringing Live Voicemail – a new feature wherein you can get a live transcript while someone is leaving you a voicemail so you can decide whether you should answer. The live transcript, Apple notes, will be in real-time. The transcriptions are handled on-device with the neural engine.

Coming to FaceTime, Apple is bringing the new “video voicemail” feature to it. With this feature, users can can record a clip of themselves and send it to others when they are not available for calls. AirDrop is getting some love as well – Apple noted at its annual developer conference that it will now let users exchange contacts by touching phones together – something that is pretty convenient. This feature is called NameDrop (which describes what it does in a literal sense) and works between iPhones, as well as between the iPhone and the Apple Watch.

As for Messages, it’s getting search filters- a new feature – to help narrow results when you are searching for texts. With the help of the new Catch-Up arrow, you can return to where you left off in conversations. Audio messages will be transcribed, and you can share your location directly in conversations with location sharing. And to add to this, Apple is expanding the ability to pick out subjects from images – which was introduced last year. This time, users will be able to pick subjects and create stickers to use on iMessages.

Furthermore, the latest addition to iOS 17 is the Journal app, introduced by Apple with a focus on enhancing overall well-being. It utilizes various elements such as photos, location data, music, and more to suggest journal entries, assisting users in getting started with their journaling journey.

Within Journal, users have the ability to include photos, map locations, and music links to enrich their journal entries. Additionally, there is a designated area for jotting down thoughts and reflections. To encourage regular journaling, the app allows users to schedule prompts as a means of establishing a consistent habit. The privacy of users is secured within Journal as well – Apple ensures that their entries are secure and protected from unauthorized access.

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