The 6 biggest iOS 17 features that Apple stole from Android | Digital Trends

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Apple made a big splash at WWDC 2023 this year, with the big main announcement of the Vision Pro augmented reality headset. But we also took a look at what’s coming with iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10 and macOS 14 Sonoma.

While iOS 17 seems to be more of a quiet release this year that focuses on refinement and quality of life improvements, I have mixed feelings overall. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the iOS 17 announcement based on what was actually shown on stage, but there are some very cool features that Apple hasn’t done much (when it should have).

But I also can’t help but notice that some iOS 17 features have been pulled straight from the Android playbook. In fact, there are a surprisingly large number of them. Here are the biggest iOS 17 features that Apple stole from Android.

Live voicemail


Apple kicked off the iOS 17 segment of the keynote by announcing some big changes coming to the Phone, Messages, and FaceTime apps. With the Phone app, one such feature is Live Voicemail.

What is live voicemail? Basically, you’ll see a real-time transcript of the voicemail someone is leaving, and it also gives you the option to answer the call (before they finish the message and hang up) or let them continue. However, spammers identified by managers will not appear as Live Voicemail, so there’s one less thing to worry about.

This feature is cool, but Apple is far from the first to do it. In fact, Google did it first, even though it’s called the Call Screen on Pixel devices like the Google Pixel 7. With the Call Screen, the Google Assistant answers the call and asks the caller for more information. At this point, a live transcript appears on the screen, and then you can decide whether to respond or not.

So yes, while it works a little differently than Apple’s Live Voicemail feature, it’s the same general idea. It’s just that Apples Siri probably isn’t smart enough to actually handle calls for you.


Ever since Apple added home screen widgets in iOS 14, I’ve loved the idea and have several widgets on my iPhone 14 Pro. But while informative, they’re still just glorified app icons since you can’t really interact with them in any way . This is changing in iOS 17.

But, of course, Apple is late to the party. Android has had interactive widgets for years at this point. In fact, Android has supported widgets since day one in 2008, with third-party widget support coming a year later. Then, in 2011, widgets became even more flexible, allowing users to scroll and even resize them as they see fit, and there were interactive elements in them as well.

It only took Apple 14 versions of iOS to finally add widgets and a total of 17 versions to make interaction with them possible. We finally got there, but it sure took a while.

Offline maps

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In 2012, Apple dropped Google Maps as the default map app on the iPhone and unveiled its own in-house solution, Apple Maps. However, that same year, Google Maps began offering offline map downloads, although offline turn-by-turn driving directions didn’t start until 2015.

But it’s pretty amazing that over 10 years later, Apple is finally adding support for offline maps in Apple Maps on iOS 17. Offline maps let you explore, view business information like hours/ratings, and even get turn-by-turn directions. to drive, walk and travel. It’s nice that offline turn-by-turn navigation has been available from the very beginning on Apple Maps, but Google Maps and Android beat it to the punch years ago.

FaceTime Voicemail


Starting with iOS 17, if you call someone via FaceTime and they don’t answer, you have the option to leave a video message for the recipient. The other person will be able to see that a FaceTime message has been left.

Google did it with Duo in 2018 and it’s still available now that the app has been rebranded as Google Meet. With Google Duo/Meet, if you miss a video call, the caller can leave a 30-second video message.

Leveling function in the Camera app

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I take a lot of photos, and while it’s fun to take an unorthodox angled shot from time to time, I usually want straight images. While I think I can clear things up just by looking at it, sometimes I end up freaking out. Apple built a smoothing feature into the Camera app years ago with Grid mode, but I don’t want to use a grid every time I want to take a photo.

Now, iOS 17 is finally adding a standalone leveler in the Camera app, though it’s turned off by default (unless you’re already using Grid mode). It appears as a dotted line in the center of the viewfinder and is white until you straighten the image. When you’re successful and hold the camera straight, it turns yellow, indicating you should take the picture right now. It only shows up briefly and when you’re in a narrow range of angles close to 0 degrees in a vertical or horizontal position.

This is a feature you can already find on some Android phones, like the Google Pixel 7a. It only pops up when it detects you’re trying to get an upright photo, and shows the angle you’re holding the device at so you know how to adjust it. I find it to be a useful tool for image capture, so I’m happy to see it coming in iOS 17.

AirDrop changes


A distinctive feature of iOS 17 is the changes to AirDrop. You can now directly share contact information via AirDrop, with this specific feature called NameDrop. Works in conjunction with new contact posters that you can customize with your photo and select contact information. Once you hold your iPhone near someone else’s iPhone, you will automatically exchange information. Sharing other photos and files via AirDrop now works the same way, as you just have to keep the iPhones close to each other. And larger files can continue to download over Wi-Fi when you get out of AirDrop range.

Again, this technology is cool, but Apple is definitely not the first to do it. Android had a similar feature years ago called Android Beam, where users could transfer data to each other using NFC technology. Google replaced Beam with Nearby Share, which debuted in 2020 and uses both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to transfer data between Android, ChromeOS and Microsoft Windows.

It’s a two-way street, and it’s better for all of us

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

These are six of the biggest iOS 17 features that I’ve noticed being taken over by Android. I’m sure there will be more to find once you delve deeper, but these are the ones that immediately caught my eye.

Even though Apple has copied these features from Android, I still wish it would do more. For example, iOS notifications are still awful, and I’d like to be able to individually adjust volume settings for various items independently (system, notifications/alerts, ring, Siri, media). Apple still has work to do on those fronts, as well as others, like more customization.

However, at the end of the day, Apple copies Google and vice versa and in the end it’s better for all of us.

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