It sounds like iOS 17 will be worth getting excited over, even if until recently it could have been thought of as a rather iterative update.
The upcoming iPhone update, apparently known internally as "Dawn," started out as a "tuneup release," but has since morphed into something more ambitious, according to Mark Gurman in the subscriber edition of Bloomberg's Power On newsletter.
Instead of minor improvements, iOS 17 will supposedly "boast several "nice to have" features," including "several of users' most requested features."
Gurman doesn't detail what those features are, but says none of them are "tentpole" like customizable lock screens were for iOS 16.
iOS 16 was a huge update, full of new toys like lock screen customization, unsend options for emails and texts and Live Activities. As a result, a lot of software bugs and quirks were introduced, which Apple apparently hoped to use iOS 17 to address. Hopefully these issues are now completely dealt with if Apple's developers have felt comfortable enough to start introducing more features into the mix.
What could iOS 17 add?
Rumors of iOS 17 features have, so far, been limited. Sources claimed Apple moved its focus away from new iOS features so staff could work on the rumored Apple AR/VR headset and its new operating system.
The only potential addition the leak-o-sphere has come up with is Apple allowing third-party app stores to work in iOS for the first time, which could have a huge impact on the apps you're able to download onto your iPhone, and how you interact with them.
Apple normally introduces new OSes for its products each year at WWDC, so WWDC 2023 should be when we hear the first official iOS 17 news. It'll presumably then go through a few months of closed and public beta testing before getting a stable release alongside the iPhone 15, which should be happening in September.