Road to WWDC: What to expect for iPhone and iOS 17

iOS 17 concept board
(Image credit: Kostiantyn Konovalov)
WWDC 2023: The Story So Far...

WWDC 2023

(Image credit: Apple)

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Apple VR and the Reality Pro headset
iOS 17
macOS 14
iPadOS 17
watchOS 10

Every year Apple announces its next big software refreshes. Software for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch all gets updated in or around September.

All of those software releases are previewed long before that, though, at WWDC. And with WWDC 2023 now just around the corner, we won't have to wait too much longer before we get a sneak peek at what will be powering our devices throughout 2024. In the case of the iPhone, that'll be iOS 17.

Here's the story of iOS 17 so far — what we know, what we're hoping for, and what we're still waiting for after the iOS 16 announcement almost a year ago.

As we countdown the weeks to iOS 17's big unveiling at WWDC 2023 we have a few expectations about what we will see. It's difficult to say with any certainty what the new software will bring to the iPhone, but based on leaks there are a couple of things we can hope for.

What we know so far

Those iOS 17 WWDC rumors start with a big revamp of something that hasn't always had the attention it deserves — Control Center. It's thought to be getting the biggest redesign in years, potentially giving us the chance to change what some of the buttons do, which would be nice.

Another change that has arguably been a long time coming is support for sideloading and third-party app stores. It's something that people have long cried out for and some even jailbreak their iPhones to be able to install apps outside of the App Store. A legal spat with the EU could mean that things like the Alt Store could become an official option with iOS 17, although possibly only in some parts of the world. Still, it's something we never thought likely to happen.

Speaking of things that were once unlikely to happen, there's also talk of iOS 17 allowing third-party web browsers to use browsing engines other than WebKit for the first time. That would allow Google Chrome to use its own browsing engine, for example.

Beyond that, one leaker suggested that there are changes to the Wallet and Health apps on the way including a new tabbed interface and more. But in terms of actual; user interface and experience changes across iOS, we don't know that much about what to expect. Hopefully, that leaves some room for something to take us by surprise.

The wishlist

iOS 17 mockup logo

(Image credit: iMore)

If that's the case, there are a few things that we'd like to see come to the fore when iOS 17 is finally unveiled on June 5.

One of our wishlist items seems highly unlikely given recent reports, but we'd still like to see some sort of Siri upgrade. Any kind of Siri upgrade would be nice, but in a world of ChatGPT and Android's ongoing focus on AI features, it's time for Siri to catch up. Unfortunately, reports of Siri and AI team infighting at Apple might mean that this is unlikely to happen. Still, that doesn't mean that it's long overdue and Apple should be well aware that its digital assistant lags way behind expectations.

Lock Screen improvements would also be nice, although we're not sure what shape they would take. We already gained the Always-On Display and widgets with iOS 16 although the former is only available on Apple's best iPhones. More Lock Screen widget options, perhaps of different sizes, would be nice.

Speaking of widgets, there has been some suggestion that they will be improved in iOS 17. That's something we've wanted for some time — interactive widgets that feel more like miniature versions of the apps they're associated with would be amazing. Fingers and toes crossed for that one here.

If we're being picky? The iPhone 15's expected to gain the Dynamic Island so any improvements there would be well received by all new iPhone owners. Sure, we're still waiting for a ton of apps to make better use of the feature but Apple could still show the way with better features of its own and expanded APIs for third-party developers to hook into.

Finally, CarPlay. We were promised some big iOS 16 CarPlay changes that have yet to ship. The software was supposed to hook into cars' systems more tightly, support multiple displays for the first time, and more. We'd like that to actually ship. On top of that the overall CarPlay look and feel is ready for a refresh, and we'd like to see widgets come into play here as well.

While it's true that iOS 17 isn't going to be the biggest update we've seen in recent years, it's still expected to have some nice features for us to enjoy. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has given the impression that the update will tick off some nice-to-have features that people have wished for over the years. That sounds just the ticket to us.

We can also likely expect some sort of integration with the Reality Pro headset this year, with the hardware being announced during the same event. But it's difficult to hope for too much there without seeing what the headset will be capable of first.

The timeline

The one thing that we can be sure about in terms of iOS 17, is the timeline. Probably.

Apple is expected to announce iOS 17 alongside iPadOS 17, macOS 14, watchOS 10, and tvOS 17 during the WWDC23 event's opening keynote on June 5. From there, developers will likely get their hands on the first beta immediately after the keynote.

Next will come a month's-long beta program with the public getting their hands on the update in or around the early weeks of September. The software will also be what powers the iPhone 15 lineup when it goes on sale around the same time, too.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.