Apple has released its first major update to iOS 17, making changes to AirDrop, Music, Wallet, and StandBy mode. As ever, there are important bug fixes and security updates included too.
iOS 17.1 builds on the three smaller releases we’ve seen in the past month, bundling together important security fixes with some new features. As ever, iPadOS 17.1 launched at the same time, with many of the same changes.
Let’s take a look at what’s new.
At WWDC, Apple showed off a new AirDrop capability that allowed file transfers to continue over the internet even if you move out of range of the other device. However, the feature didn’t show up with iOS 17.0 in September. It’s now been added, meaning you don’t have to stay in close proximity when wirelessly sharing large files to another device.
Nothing major here, but there are several minor changes to improve Apple’s music streaming platform. First, you can favorite tracks, albums, or even playlists. You can filter the library to just show favorites, and liking tracks in this way will help improve Apple’s understanding of your music taste.
In an attempt to keep up with Spotify, you’ll now find auto-generated song suggestions at the bottom of each of your playlists, intended to “match the vibe” of the other tracks. You can also customize playlist artwork with some nifty built-in graphics.
In a rare move for Apple, UK residents are getting a feature that’s not available elsewhere. Connected Cards allows users to see their current bank account and transaction history within Apple’s Wallet app, thanks to an Open Banking API that most UK banks support.
US residents can access a similar feature if they bank with Discover, but it lacks wider support right now.
iOS 17 unlocked a cool feature that turns an iPhone into a nightstand or desk clock when charging. iOS 17.1 adds more control over how long this display remains on. Head to Settings > StandBy > Display to choose the option that works best for you, although note that only devices with an always-on display are compatible. That’s the Pro and Pro Max versions of iPhone 14 and 15.
Finally, Apple has made changes to the Lock Screen’s Photo Shuffle feature, which cycles through your photo library to change the wallpaper throughout the day. Users can now pick specific albums to shuffle, instead of being limited to simply choosing from people, nature, or pets.
In addition to the recent security patches, iOS 17.1 includes a suite of bug fixes for various minor software issues. These include fixes for incoming calls, privacy settings, Screen Time, Home, crash detection, keyboard responsiveness, and more.
How to update
Note that even with Automatic Updates switched on in Settings, it’s often faster to manually trigger the update process. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to check for the latest version of iOS, and App Store > Account to see which apps are due an update.
Of course, if you haven’t upgraded to iOS 17 at all yet, this is a good chance to do so. There are a ton of new features to explore, and it works on all the same devices that could run iOS 16 last year!