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Apple usually releases its big iOS updates at 10 am PT / 1 pm EDT / 6 pm BST, and that proved the case again with iOS 17.

iOS 17 was announced back in June at WWDC 2023, so unless you’ve taken an early ride on the beta train, it can be easy to forget the new features that were announced.

You don’t have to upgrade to an iPhone 15 this week to get a hit of iPhone-based fun, because iOS 17 has finally launched. And there are some big improvements that I’m looking forward to taking for a spin on my older iPhone.

1. Interactive widgets

A finger tapping an interactive widget on an iPhone in iOS 17

Home screen widgets are about to get a lot more useful with iOS 17 – they’ll now be interactive and will work across the Lock Screen and new StandBy view, too.

Apple says these interactions will let you tick off things on your to-do list, pause songs, or access your smart-home controls, among other tricks. This is something you’ve been able to do on Android for a while, but I’m looking forward to being able to do this on my iPhone.

Until now I’ve always found widgets to be more useful on iPads, but their new interactive versions will likely see them take up more of my home screen.

2. StandBy mode

Several iPhones on a grey background showing the new StandBy mode in iOS 17

This new mode turns your iPhone into a little smart display or clock when it’s left charging on its side – and while I don’t currently have a stand (for example, the Twelve South Forté one) to help me fully take advantage of StandBy, that could change if it proves as useful as it looks.

Beyond turning your iPhone into a glorified alarm clock, StandBy combines nicely with iOS 17’s new interactive widgets (above) to serve you up glanceable info like the latest news headlines, weather, and more.

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While it looks a bit limited right now (not all widgets are supported), StandBy could (literally) become the sleeper hit of iOS 17.

3. Better autocorrect

An iPhone on a grey background showing a conversation with autocorrect

It might not be the most exciting iOS 17 feature, but improved autocorrect could be the most useful one. The update is applied to a transformer language model (like the one used in ChatGPT), which should be able to correct typing mistakes much quicker than before.

The new autocorrect could also reduce the amount of tapping we do, too – like Gmail, its predictive smarts will let you hit the space bar to choose its suggested phrases and sentences.

4. FaceTime on Apple TV

A mother and child in a FaceTime call on a TV screen

As most TVs don’t have a built-in camera, the feature instead uses Cona Tinuity Camera to turn your iPhone into a webcam. Given how wide the iPhone’s main camera is, I’m not yet sure how close to the TV I’ll need to sit – but it will use Center Stage to keep me in the air, so it’s dee of the first iOS 17 features I’m planning to try out.

5. An improved Siri

The Siri logo and an example conversation with the voice assistant in iOS 17

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