Top iOS 17 Features to Try Right Now

The second you download your shiny new OS, you’ll want to start playing with all the new features. But where to start? Here are the iOS 17 features to enjoy as soon as your installation is complete!

Must-Try Messaging Tricks

The first app I opened when my iOS 17 installation was complete was the Messages app. To discover more iOS 17 hidden features, be sure to sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter. Now, here are five of my new favorite things to do in iOS 17!

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See All Your Apps in One Place

Access a handy list of iMessage apps next time you’re texting. To the left of your message input field, you’ll see a plus sign. Your six most important (or so Apple deems) apps will pop up on top, but you can swipe up to see a full list. This is where you’ll want to go to access your camera and photos, location, audio recording, and more. Drag and drop to rearrange the order of apps!

Tap to Return to Your Last Read Message

Group chats can move fast. Too fast, for some, with messages zipping in before you can figure out what you last read. iOS 17 helps you stay on top of group chats (or just a very chatty contact) by letting you press an arrow to return to your last read message in a thread. Now, you can scroll through your unread messages at your leisure without having to follow a conversation backward to try to figure out what anyone is talking about.

Check In with Your Contacts

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told someone I’d let them know when I got home only to have it fall completely out of my brain on the trip back. This entirely defeats the purpose of the check in, neither putting the other person at ease nor offering any kind of alarm if I don’t end up back home. Now, all you have to do is tap the plus sign on the left of your message input field, tap Check In, and follow the prompts to either be reminded to check in at a specific time or have a check in notification automatically trigger when you reach a certain destination. If you do not check in or reach that destination, your contact will be notified. (Note: Check In only works between iPhones.)

Send a Live Sticker

iOS 16 brought us the ability to cut out the subjects of photos, now iOS 17 gives us ways to actually use them. Turn photo subjects into stickers with different effects, like holographic or comic styles. With Live Photos, you can even send moving stickers! Long press on the subject of a photo until you get a menu and tap Add Sticker. From here, you can choose the effect. If you choose Live, make sure the Live function is toggled on so the photo will actually move. Have fun!

Swipe Right to Reply

Replying in-line to messages has been a super helpful way to keep sub conversations straight in message threads, and iOS 17 has made it even easier. Instead of holding down a message and selecting Reply (though that option is still available), you can just swipe right on a message to reply to it directly. All the controls and formatting are the same as the previous Reply method, it’s just easier to get there!

Phone & FaceTime Fun

Create a Contact Card

The new Contact Card feature lets you personalize how you show up when you call or message someone. It’s a whole-screen display which can have your name, a memoji, or a photo of your choice. Just open Contacts and tap on your name. If you haven’t set up a Contact Card yet, you’ll be prompted to do so. If you have, tap Edit. From here, you can select from a range of styles to suit you and who gets to see your Contact Card.

View a Voicemail as It’s Recorded

Remember the days of listening to a voicemail on an answering machine? Then you’ll appreciate the new Live Voicemail feature. As a voicemail is being recorded, you’ll be able to see the transcription on your screen, allowing you to decide whether to answer. At present, this feature doesn’t have full functionality, for example, voicemails from unknown callers don’t show up, but voicemails from contacts should.

Record a Message on FaceTime

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wished I could leave a video message on FaceTime. Whether I had something I wanted to show someone in that moment or wanted to leave a more personal hello, I’ve felt the absence of this option for a long time. No more! Now, when a FaceTime call gets to the point where it shows the other person is unavailable, you have the option to leave a video or audio message. Just select one, leave your message, and wait for them to enjoy it!

React Live on FaceTime

This is one feature that is just plain fun. Spice up your FaceTime video calls with live reactions including hearts, fireworks, a laser show, and more! Just long press on the box that shows your video (make sure it’s minimized, so don’t tap it first) and select your reactions! Some hand gestures work too, like two thumbs up or thumbs down, though the success of those thus far has been spotty.

See More Info in Your Contact Widget

The Contacts widget has long been handy for keeping our most important contacts at our fingertips. Now, not only can you easily call or message a contact on your Home Screen with this widget, but you can also see at a glance where the contacts who share location with you are. No need to open Find My to see if your spouse is on their way home yet, just take a glance at the widget. Tapping the contact will also open an expanded screen complete with a location display.

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Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden Both's picture

Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden Both

Amy Spitzfaden-Both is the Managing Editor for iPhone Life magazine and an award-winning novelist, with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. She specializes in Apple news and rumors, health and fitness tech, and parenting in the digital age. She graduated from MIU with a BA in Literature and Writing.
Amy lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. When she’s not writing or glued to her iPhone, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and creating her own tea blends.