While the iPhone came before the first Android smartphone, every new iOS version seems to include a wealth of features already existing on Android, and iOS 17 is no exception.
Apple's currently beta testing iOS 17 with developers, with a public beta coming in July and a stable release in September most likely. Quite a few features are coming to iPhones this fall that currently work on Android or did at some point. And while all the new features listed below will work on iOS 17, many will also work on iPadOS 17 and macOS Sonoma.
Keep reading to see everything Apple borrows from Google's operating system.
Apple's iOS 17 will feature a new screen-calling feature called Live Voicemail, which provides iPhone users with a real-time transcription of voicemails from family, friends, and unknown callers. Callers identified as spam by supported carriers will be automatically rejected. The transcriptions appear on the call screen, where users can break through the voicemail to answer the call right away or ignore it.
This is almost the same as Call Screen, one of my favorite perks of carrying an Android smartphone. Call Screen, available since 2018, is an Android feature in Google's Phone app, and it also provides live translations from callers.
Its implementation differs because it prompts callers to leave a screen-calling message rather than a regular voicemail, so not every caller will comply. Depending on your phone model, it will either ask certain callers automatically to leave a screen-calling message or give you the option on each call to send it to Call Screen. You can then ignore or answer the call.
Note that the screened call transcription on Android above shows transcriptions for the WWDC 2023 keynote address in the background. A caller speaking directly into the microphone is transcribed more accurately.
Apple Maps is getting a huge update on iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 that lets iPhone and iPad users download maps for offline use before trekking to areas with little-to-no connectivity. For years, it's been possible to save maps and navigation routes in Apple Maps, but it's not a listed feature since it's far from straightforward and only stores the data in the cache, which can disappear at any time. With the upcoming software, Apple Maps officially supports offline maps with turn-by-turn directions, business hours, and location ratings.
AirDrop is a convenient protocol for sharing files between iOS, iPadOS, and macOS devices. With NameDrop on iOS 17, Apple is making it even easier to share contacts by simply bringing two iPhone models close together. It's also a great pun. It's also just as easy to initiate a SharePlay for music, video, games, and other media.
Google added similar functionality to Android way back in 2011 with Android Beam. With your contact card open, you could press your Android phone's back against another Android phone's back, then tap to beam your details over to the other person. Apple's version is a little more seamless since iPhone users won't have to open any contact cards and can accept each other's contact information simultaneously instead of one by one.
Android Beam has been discontinued as an operating system feature and replaced by Nearby Share, which can do similar things. However, it still exists as an API for developers using near-field communication (NFC) connectivity.
Note that the above GIF shows webpage "beaming" from one Android device to another, but sharing contact information worked similarly.
Apple's also giving its FaceTime service a much-needed feature with iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and possibly even macOS Sonoma: audio or video messages. With this ability, Apple users can leave audio or video voicemails to FaceTime recipients when they don't answer the call. Video effects will work like in regular FaceTime calls, and an Apple Watch can even play received messages.
If that sounds familiar, it's because Google has made audio and video messaging on Android (and even iOS) via the Google Duo messaging app since at least 2018. Duo has now merged with Google Meet, where audio and video messaging are also available.
With Apple's upcoming iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 software, iPhone and iPad owners will finally be able to dictate back-to-back commands to Siri without having to repeat the "Hey Siri" or "Siri" trigger word (the latter of which is also new to iOS 17 and iPadOS 17).
Google Assistant has had this capability since at least 2018 when Google introduced continued conversation and multiple actions. However, you still have to say "Hey Google" and not just "Google" when initiating your first command, but stopping a timer, answering the phone call, and similar tasks don't require any trigger phrase for interaction.
Starting with iOS 17, charging an iPhone in landscape orientation will activate StandBy, which provides "glanceable information" such as clocks, photos, and other widgets. The layout is customizable, includes a red-light night mode, supports Live Activities and Siri, and works best on Apple's always-on displays.
Y'all, this is a screen saver! For the youngsters out there, screen savers have existed on PCs since the 1980s to prevent the burn-in of static images.
Android also has screen savers that activate while charging, and they've been around since 2012 with Daydream mode, simply called screen saver since 2016. You can set up clocks, rotating photos, changing colors, and more, but Apple's implementation of Live Activities and Siri make it a little more impressive than Android's version.
The "People" album in the Photos app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, which can automatically detect the faces of specific people in the user's photo library and consolidate them in one place, has been around for a while.
However, iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma are giving it another feature — pet scanning. Now called "Photos & Pets," the live album automatically collects pictures of family cats and dogs.
This same functionality has been around since 2018 in Google Photos for Android, iOS, and the web. You can easily search your photos based on people and pets and use its live albums tool to create an album that auto-populates with pictures of people and pets.
One practical new feature arriving with iOS 17 is Check In, which lets iPhone users update a friend or family member automatically on their progress reaching a specific destination, like a library, school, work, etc.
After sending the initial check-in message to the recipient contact, the recipient is notified when the sender reaches their target area, if they're delayed, or if they never make it. If the sender doesn't react to any prompts from Check In, the feature will share the sender's current or last known location, battery levels, and network signal strength. It can even share the route traveled, when the iPhone was last unlocked, and when the sender's Apple Watch was removed.
Google introduced the same feature, called Safety Check, for Google Pixel smartphones in 2020 via its Personal Safety app. It's available to other Android smartphones via the Digital Wellbeing app, though it should be a standard for all Android devices considering the potentially life-saving benefits of such a feature.
To enable the feature, choose a reason (such as walking alone or hiking) and check-in duration, pick contacts to alert, and start it. Your selected contacts get notifications when the scheduled time begins and ends. You then respond to the duration-specific prompts saying you're OK, to start sharing your location now, or call emergency services. If your battery hits zero, Safety Check will send your last known location whenever you miss one of the prompts.
Apple Music is getting a social-minded upgrade on iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma. While not yet available for testing, Collaborative Playlists allow Apple Music subscribers on iPhone, iPad, and Mac to invite friends to join a group playlist. Everyone will be able to add, reorder, and remove songs and react to others' song choices with emoji on the Now Playing screen. It's unknown whether this feature will be supported in the Apple Music app for Android.
Apple's finally making widgets more useful. On iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, widgets on the Home Screen, Lock Screen, or StandBy screen (the latter being an iPhone exclusive) will be interactive. The same goes for widgets on the macOS Sonoma desktop. And WidgetKit lets developers join in on the fun with their app widgets.
So Apple users can conduct actions right from their widgets, such as checking off to-do lists, playing music, starting podcasts, turning off lights, or interacting with flashcards without having to open the parent app.
Interactive functionality has been standard on Android for a while now. You can play/pause and skip tracks in various music widgets, check items off Google Keep lists, view real-time traffic predictions and zoom in/out of your Google Maps location, scroll through lists in Google Calendar and Gmail, or thumb through book covers in the Play Books widget.
Yes, before iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, iPhone and iPad users couldn't set more than one timer without downloading and using a third-party app. The Clock app finally has the ability to keep track of multiple timers, and users can even label them and save them for later in case they use the same time for the same activity frequently. The timers will be trackable simultaneously via Live Activities.
This already exists on Android via the At a Glance widget for Google Pixel devices. Start more than one timer via the Clock app or Google Assistant, and you'll be able to track them at the top of your main home screen (as seen below). Samsung recently added multiple timers to its Clock app with One UI 5.1 earlier this year, and you'll see a pop-up widget in the corner that displays the time left, and you can swipe through the timers to see them all.
To be fair to Apple, Google does its fair share of copying from iOS. Android 14 will duplicate the Lock Screen and wallpaper customization engine from iOS 16 and the functionality of Apple's Find My app. Let the ouroboros that is the mobile OS wars continue to eat itself.
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