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iPhone envy? Five iOS 17 features that Android users already have

The iPhone's latest iOS 17 update brings improvements to how you text, call, and use the ambient display -- much like what exists on Android.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
The Always-on Display on a Samsung phone
June Wan/ZDNET

Apple this week rolled out the official version of its latest iPhone software, iOS 17, with a bounty of new features that bring improved customizability and functionality to its latest smartphones.

Also: The most impactful new iOS 17 features are also the ones you'll notice the least

If you followed Apple's most recent iPhone 15 keynote or started to see TikToks on what's new for iPhone, then iOS envy can be real, very real. But if you're an avid Android user, should the latest iPhone features warrant a change of heart? 

If the below features are new to you, then probably not. Because what's hot and fresh for the iPhone might already be available in the palm of your hand.

1. Live Voicemails

Live voicemail on iOS 17
June Wan/ZDNET

Not everyone has the bandwidth (or wants) to take phone calls. Spam numbers are running rampant, sitting through elevator music for the next available representative is never fun, and more often than not, a text message gets the job done.

That's why Live Voicemail, an iOS 17 feature that transcribes what a caller on the other end is saying without you needing to pick up the phone, drew "oohs" and "ahs" at WWDC in June.

Also: 5 useful iOS 17 features Apple quietly released at WWDC

But if you're on a Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy, there exists Call Screen and Bixby Text Call, respectively. Both Android features allow you to screen incoming calls, transcribe messages in real time, respond via text-to-speech, and switch back to a voice call when you're ready to pick up the phone.

To enable Call Screen, open the Phone app > tap on the More icon (three dots) > Settings > Call Screen > and toggle the feature on. To enable Bixby Text Call, open the Phone app > tap on the More icon > Settings > Bixby Text Call > and toggle it on. The next time you receive a phone call, your phone should give you the option to use the call-screening feature.

There are some other unique aspects to the two like the ability to automatically block spam calls in Call Screen and being able to replicate your voice via AI in Bixby Text Call.

2. Offline maps

Apple Maps versus Google Maps on phones
June Wan/ZDNET

One of the new features coming with iOS 17 is an improved Apple Maps experience, which includes the ability to download maps for offline use. This is particularly helpful when you're traveling in areas with little to no cellular service and still need navigation assistance.

Also: Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: iPhone users are switching back, but which is better?

While Apple Maps may be irrelevant to you as an Android user, the concept of offline maps may sound appealing. Fortunately, not only do you have arguably the better map service in Google Maps, but the service also supports offline navigation.

To download a section of the map for offline viewing, tap on your profile icon > Offline maps > and then Select Your Own Map. You can shrink or expand the area that you'd like to download by pinching the proximity box in or out.

3. Auto-deleting used verification codes

One of the many quietly-released features on iOS 17 was "Clean Up Automatically," which auto-deletes multi-factor authentification (2FA) codes shortly after you've pasted them into a text field. It's a nifty trick that can clear up your phone's storage, little by little. 

Also: iOS 17 makes iMessage group chats with Android users more bearable - sort of

And guess what? Android's got it too. Within the Messages app, tap your profile picture > Messages settings > Message organization > and then toggle on Auto-delete OTPs after 24 hrs

OTPs, or one-time passwords, can clog up storage, especially when you consider how many apps and services now require you to copy and paste codes to log into accounts. Turning this feature on deletes those codes 24 hours after you've used them.

4. StandBy Mode

The Always-on Display on a Samsung phone
June Wan/ZDNET

One of the features that caught my eye at WWDC was StandBy Mode. When the iPhone is locked and docked on a MagSafe charger -- or just being charged and tilted in landscape orientation -- it displays useful, glanceable information like the time, weather, smart home status, and even Live Activities. The iPhone effectively doubles as a smart display.

Also: How to use StandBy Mode iOS 17 (and which iPhones support it)

A similar feature exists on Android, though it's not as detailed. Setting a Google Pixel on a Pixel Stand (2nd Gen), for example, prompts a Google Photos carousal, smart home controls, and more. 

On a Samsung Galaxy, you can set the always-on display to appear in landscape orientation and change the clock style to present your upcoming meetings and a calendar.

Also: How to turn your old Fire tablet into an Echo Show

While Apple is playing catch-up here to Android's existing ambient display modes, you have to appreciate how much thought was put into StandBy, including how the phone will recognize which MagSafe puck you snap it to and adaptively populate the previously used overlay.

5. Setting multiple timers

For the first time in forever, iPhone users can set multiple timers at once. This is especially useful, say, when you're cooking and managing multiple dishes.

On Android, the default Clock app also supports multiple timers. From the app, start a timer like normal and then tap on the plus icon underneath the active countdown. As a bonus tip, tap on the menu button on the upper right and turn on Screen saver to keep the timer on your lock screen.

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