We're likely to get at least a glimpse of iOS 17 at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2023, but until then, we've been left to create a wishlist of features that we'd like to see Apple implement – both for photography and all-around daily use.
Some reliable sources think that Apple isn't focusing on making huge overhauls or groundbreaking features in this year's update.
Tom's Guides suggests that iOS 17 might finally get third-party app stores, at least in Europe, to comply with a new EU law. If this were to go ahead, it means that the iPhone could install software outside of Apple's official software center and App Store, opening up iPhone to all sorts of new creative uses.
What is iOS?
Nowadays, the latest smartphones or digital cameras don't offer their full potential straight out of the box. What we mean is that when you buy the best camera, you'll probably get regular firmware updates that help to improve things like autofocus, menu systems, and system bugs. With the best camera phone, the manufacturer will offer updates to the operating system itself.
A Samsung phone or Google Pixel phone runs on the Android platform, while the best iPhone for photography will come with Apple's iOS, iPhone Operating System. And that's all iOS actually is – a mobile operating system that's been created and developed by Apple for its own hardware. iOS controls the look of the iPhone interface, as well as the features and interactions you can have with apps and widgets.
5 things I want to see from Apple with iOS17
1. Give us dual apps
How many of us have two accounts for the same app – a work and a personal photography account, for example? With dual apps, we'd be able to effectively clone an app so that there are two profiles for it at the same time. I live to confuse myself with two Adobe logins on my MacBook Pro, so why not bring the confusion to iPhone, too?
2. Allow third-party apps
Bloomberg guru Mark Gurman says that he thinks Apple plans to let users download apps in iOS 17 without using Apple's App Store. So far, Apple has avoided allowing its users to download non-approved apps, citing safety and privacy concerns. Gurman says allowing third-party app stores could be to comply with stricter European Union requirements coming in 2024.
Third-party apps could be a big deal for photographers. Although the major apps like Adobe Lightroom Mobile and VSCO all iPhone-friendly, niche apps like Camera Zoom FX are only available on Android.
3. Smarter lock screen widgets
Apple's iOS 16.7 brought loads of cool new features, including fun customization for your lock screen as well as iCloud Photo Library sharing. But widgets still aren't as good or as useful or interactive as they could be.
You can already add the Lightroom Camera Widget to your Lock Screen on iPhone, but there are plenty of apps that don't have decent widget functionality. At the moment the lock screen only shows four small and two large widgets. We'd love to get the option of seeing more of the screen being used for widgets on iOS 17, especially on iPhone Plus devices with the largest screens.
4. Hey Siri, be better
Having used Google Assistant and Alexa, Siri feels like the worst of the bunch – constantly popping in when we haven't called her, or answering "Sorry, I didn't quite catch that" when you do actually ask a question.
At the moment, Siri on iOS is functional but barely usable. So why can't Apple focus on making its virtual assistant the best it can be? At the moment it uses the excuse of privacy, and that it doesn't collect your data to learn from you. Either way, improvements to Siri are long overdue. How great would it be to use your iPhone remotely, asking "hey Siri, focus on that tree and take a photo"?
5. More camera features
The best iPhones for photography are still leading the way in many areas when it comes to photography, but they lack some of the computational photography features found in the latest Pixel devices (like the Pixel 7 Pro) and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
On the software side, Apple's Camera and Photos apps have had the same interface and features for years, and it's time it caught up. Google's Magic Eraser tool was marketed as revolutionary, and it is in many ways. While not everyone will like or use Google Magic Eraser, that's not to say it can't be useful.
So, please, Apple, bring us a more exciting and advanced Camera and Photos ecosystem this year. More creative possibilities and intuitive ways to shoot.
When will iOS 17 be released?
Apple typically releases a new iOS in the fall, so we can reasonably expect iOS 17 to arrive in September 2023. This is likely to be the same time that Apple releases the iPhone 15, given what we know about their release schedule of the iPhone 14 launch event and iPhone 13 from previous years.
The first beta version of Apple iOS usually appears at the Apple WWDC 2023, and if you join the Apple Beta Software Program you can get access to iOS 17 before its widely available Then after the beta stage, Apple should release iOS 17 for everyone – with a compatible iPhone that is.
It's worth saying that we still don't know for sure when Apple with announce and launch iOS 17, but we'll update our coverage throughout this year.