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Apple WWDC 2023 Highlights

Apple WWDC23 logo featuring the Apple logo in a spectrum of colours above text that reads "WWDC23" in white writing

Apple held its annual WWDC keynote event on Monday 5th June. On the day, Apple announced many new features that will enhance the use of your iPhone and other Apple devices that you use on a daily basis. It was a packed event so we will highlight some of the best features below.

On iPhone, Apple has concentrated on making things even more personal

Customise what people see when you call, you now have the option to add a personalised poster to your calls. This option is going to be in your Contact Card. Add a photo or emoji and add your favourite font and colour. This is part of your visual identity so people will see it in multiple places you communicate and share.

Live Voicemail

Live Voicemail is an interesting new feature. With Live Voicemail you can view a real-time transcription of the audio message that someone is leaving you as they speak giving you immediate context for the call. If you feel it is urgent, then you can pick it up right then when the other person is still on the call. We are hopeful that this is going to work efficiently for VoiceOver users.

A new “Check In” Feature

Let your friends or family know when you arrive safely. With Check In, your friend or family member is alerted when you reach your destination. If you stop making progress, it checks in with you, and if you don’t respond, it shares helpful information with your friend or family member, like the location, battery level, and cell service status of your iPhone.

Any information that is shared is end-to-end encrypted. This is going to be a great safety feature and will give great peace of mind to some users; it could be useful for those who are starting out on their independent journey of mobility skills and will give them more confidence to know they will have backup if they get lost.

Audio messages are now transcribed

Read an audio message transcription. Audio messages are now transcribed so you can read them now and maybe listen to them later, this also gives another option for some deaf-blind communication.


You can now leave a video or audio message for someone when they miss your FaceTime call. All the same effects you are used to are available such as portrait mode and studio light.

While in a FaceTime call, you can now react with a hand gesture, and make shapes like a heart or confetti, after performing your hand gesture emoji reactions will fill the screen.

For Apple TV users, Facetime is now available on your TV. Start the call on your iPhone and use its camera and then hand the call off to the Apple TV and have your FaceTime call on a bigger screen.

iPhone gets a new StandBy Mode

Your iPhone will be more useful when charging, there will be a new StandBy mode available when you leave your iPhone sitting on its side. It will show things like clock, smart stacks, and widgets. You can keep up to date on live activities in full screen like sports scores, or your food delivery status.

Siri has also got a place on the screen in StandBy Mode, so it makes it easier to check the weather or set timers and alarms hands-free. While we are on the subject of Siri, Siri activation has become easier, Siri now works when you say“Siri” as well as “Hey Siri”. Siri will also have the ability to perform back-to-back requests, for example, “Siri, text Mary I will be late to the meeting and remind me to feed the dog when I get home”.


AirDrop got some great new features that make sharing easier.

NameDrop. Swap numbers with NameDrop, hold your iPhone near someone else’s iPhone or Apple Watch and you can choose what contact details you would like to share with them instantly. This is going to be great for people that use VoiceOver or low vision accessibility options as it will save a lot of time entering in contact details in the contact card.

It has also become easier to share all types of content using AirDrop; simply bring your phones close together to initiate the transfer over AirDrop. You can do the same to initiate SharePlay when content is playing; just hold the two phones close to each other and now you can both watch the same content.


Moving on to improvements in AirPods, they got a new Adaptive Audio mode. Apple said Adaptive Audio helps you focus on your favourite content or seamlessly interact with others around you while wearing AirPods Pro. It uses AI technology to fine-tune your listening experience based on your media and the environment around you.

If you begin speaking to someone nearby, Conversation Awareness automatically lowers any media volume, reduces background noise, and enhances the voices in front of you.

iOS 17

iOS 17 is compatible with the iPhone 10 and up this includes the second-generation iPhone SE, so that is bad news for anyone who owns an iPhone 8 or older, but this does not mean that the iPhone 8 is rendered useless, it will still get security updates but will not be able to install iOS 17 and thus will not have access to all the new features.

Watch a recap of highlights from the keynote from NCBI Labs: