WWDC 2023 brought with it a lot of big news, from the 15-inch MacBook Air to the Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset. The conference also brings with it the first news of the iOS 17 beta, which has just opened to developers.
Update: We've since discovered you don't need to be a registered Apple developer to download the current iOS 17. All you need is an Apple ID and a sense of adventure. Here are our instructions on how to download and install the iOS 17 beta on your iPhone.
The public will also be getting their chance to test run iOS 17 ahead of the official release later this year. Unfortunately, that particular beta isn’t open yet, and Apple has revealed regular users will have to wait until an unspecified time in the summer.
Accessing the beta means signing up for Apple’s Beta Software Program, which can be done over on the Apple website.
This is tied to your Apple ID, however, meaning you won’t be able to install the iOS 17 beta right away if you’re not signed up for the Apple Developer Program. While anyone can sign up for that, it costs actual money. $99 per year, to be exact.
Signing up for the beta with a regular Apple ID right now takes you to the iOS 16 beta page, and will stay that way until Apple opens the iOS 17 beta to the public. We don’t have a set date on when that will be, but Apple typically opens the beta a few weeks after it becomes available to developers.
The beta will, of course, let anyone enrolled test drive iOS 17’s newest features earlier than they otherwise would. Though the trade-off is that those features aren’t quite finished, and may not work exactly as advertised.
iOS 17 beta: The best new features to try
Apple announced a lot of new devices during WWDC’s opening address, and even more have been revealed by developers who already have access to the iOS 17 beta. There’s a lot of stuff to get excited about, and here are some of our favorite features that you can try once the public beta is open.
The one thing that really has us excited about iOS 17 is the new StandBy mode, which turns your iPhone into a smart display when it’s both horizontal and MagSafe charging. That lets you see lots of useful information at a glance, like the time, and includes support for widgets and smart stacks for more versatility. Screens are swipeable, but Siri voice commands are also on offer if you prefer them.
A collection of communications updates are coming too, but we are particularly keen to try Live Voicemail. This lets you send a call to voicemail, and see a live transcription of the message that’s being left. If it’s important, you can pick up and take the call. FaceTime will also be getting a video voicemail feature, while Messages will be able to sift out all those pesky two-factor verification codes and clean up your inbox.
AirDrop will also be getting something of an overhaul, with a new feature that lets you share files and information by bringing phones together. This upgrade also lets users kickstart SharePlay experiences together and includes NameDrop — which allows people to swap contact cards with as much or as little information as they like.
Autocorrect is set to get a big update so that it learns how you type, for more personalized corrections. Apple Maps will finally let you download and save maps offline, while the new Check-in feature will let friends and family know when you make it home safe. And pass on relevant information if the situation requires it. A new Private Browsing experience will keep your data safer and private, and will be more secure locked behind Face ID.
Then there’s the Journal app, which offers up various snippets of your day which, along with writing prompts, can help you document your day-to-day activities — should you so choose. The app can recognize locations, photos and music, with the goal of keeping your mind fresh. The best part is it’s all processed on device and locked with end-to-end encryption.
That’s just scratching the surface, and no doubt plenty of other features will reveal themselves as more people have the chance to try the iOS 17 beta for themselves.