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iOS 17 Review: StandBy Mode Is My Favorite New Feature, Hands Down

Ios 17

Whether you’re upgrading to one of the new iPhone 15 models or holding on to a 5ive-year-old iPhone XS, you can download iOS 17 now. Apple introduced the latest iPhone operating system at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June before releasing beta versions of the software over the summer. 

I started beta testing versions of iOS 17 in July on a newer iPhone 14 Pro and an older iPhone XR to see how the latest OS will affect most people with compatible devices. The OS brings a lot of new and useful features to your iPhone, especially in Messages, which might make you wonder why those functions weren’t there in the first place. Some apps, like Shortcuts, are less daunting than they were in previous iOS versions. 

Screen of different ios 17 updates
Apple announced ios 17 at wwdc 2023 in june. Screenshot/cnet

iOS 17 picks up visually where iOS 16 left off. Contact Posters in iOS 17 brings visuals to contacts similar to those iOS 16 brought to the lock screen. But I found Contact Posters more fun than useful. The largest visual change is StandBy mode, which turns your iPhone into a mini hub filled with widgets, photos and customizable clocks.

iOS 17 will work on iPhone XS and newer models. But while the new software makes experiences seamless and less burdensome on older and newer iPhones alike, some features really shine on newer models, like the iPhone 14 Pro. That doesn’t mean you should avoid iOS 17 if you have an older iPhone — you’ll still experience about 90% of iOS 17’s benefits. StandBy mode, for example, worked on my XR, but with the display’s sleep timer turned off, I have to lock my screen in order for it to work. Once in StandBy mode, the display goes to sleep a short time later.

StandBy mode is a standout

When Apple announced StandBy mode at WWDC, I was skeptical. My wife and I don’t have a smart display, like the Amazon Echo Show, or any other kind of supplementary hub in our home, and we’ve been just fine — and yes, if you come by later, I’ll probably be yelling about the weather. But StandBy mode is my favorite new iPhone feature in years, and it’s not even close. 

StandBy mode even started to improve my relationship with my iPhone. Before iOS 17, if I got up from my desk to grab a snack or go to the bathroom, I’d make sure my iPhone was in my pocket — and if it wasn’t I’d immediately go into detective mode to find it and put it back where it belongs, my right front pocket. 

StandBy mode also works best on iPhones with always-on displays, like the iPhone 14 Pro. It will work on other iOS 17 compatible iPhones, like the iPhone XR, but only until your screen goes to sleep.

Messages upgrades beyond autocorrect

Yes, autocorrect will now learn from your messages so it won’t correct you all the “ducking” time. Is this cool? Yeah. Am I immature? Also, yes. The cursing in my texts now flows without interruption or confusion. But more so, autocorrect has improved overall to better understand what you mean. It’s also not as eager to correct things like acronyms or slang.

The keyboard in messages with the message sometimes autocorrect gets it wrong, and that's ok in the text field

Messages also gets a host of other new features that make staying in contact with others easy and effortless, including an autocorrect undo function. “But wait, didn’t you just say autocorrect will better understand what I mean and not correct me all the time?” Yes, dear reader, glad to see you’re paying attention, but autocorrect still gets it wrong sometimes — same here, autocorrect. When it does make a correction, Messages will underline the corrected word. If you tap the word, you’ll be given the option to undo the correction, reverting it back to what you originally typed. 

The app bar has been replaced with a drawer. Next to your message field, there’s a plus sign button that you use to pull up iMessage apps like your Camera, Memoji and others. You can rearrange these, too, so apps that you use more, like the #images app, can be easily accessible. This is a small but helpful change. Before iOS 17, sometimes the app bar would disappear on me, and I’d have to swipe my screen up or down to bring it back. Now all the apps are in the same easy-to-find place.

iOS 17 can automatically delete verification code messages

Two-factor verification messages are a great way to improve security when logging into an account or service. You know what really annoys me about them though? All the random messages and emails that clutter my inboxes. But that’s no longer a problem.

With iOS 17, your Messages and Mail app can automatically delete two-factor verification codes once the code has been used to autofill its intended field. I love keeping all my inboxes clean and tidy, and this new feature is like a virtual Roomba that gets rid of those unnecessary messages as soon as they are used.

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