iOS 17.1 has landed – here are the 4 biggest updates available for your iPhone

The iPhone 15 being held in a hand
The iPhone 15 (Image credit: Future)

The first significant update to iOS 17 has arrived, with iOS 17.1 rolling out now. If your iPhone is capable of running iOS 17, then it's also eligible for iOS 17.1: it works on the 2018 iPhones, including the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS, and every iPhone released since then, including of course the iPhone 15 line.

That means some more goodies and upgrades to play around with, and we've picked out the biggest and best ones in the list below. Besides these new and improved features there are also numerous bug fixes, which we've detailed further down.

1. StandBy customization

iOS StandBy mode on an iPhone

You get more control over StandBy mode with iOS 17.1 (Image credit: Future)

StandBy essentially turns your iPhone into a bedside clock while it's charging – it can show the time and date for example, or a selection of photos from the phone gallery. It's available on every iPhone that can run iOS 17, but it works best with the always-on displays you get with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models, and the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models.

StandBy mode was introduced with iOS 17, but iOS 17.1 has added another customization option, so you can control when it turns off: Automatically (when the room is dark and your iPhone isn't in use), After 20 Seconds, or Never. You'll be able to find these options by choosing StandBy and then Display from the iOS Settings.

2. Apple Music upgrades

Apple Music already lets you add artists as Favorites, but that's been expanded to include songs, albums, and playlists in iOS 17.1. Any tracks that you've previously 'loved' in the Apple Music interface (so you've tapped the heart icon next to them) will be converted into Favorites.

The iOS 17.1 update also makes it easier to add songs to your Favorites with a few interface tweaks. You can favorite a song by tapping on the star icon button on the lock screen widget, for example. There's also a similar button on the now playing screen, and Favorites are accessible from the Library section too.

Plus, song suggestions will now appear at the bottom of every playlist, giving you an easy way to add similar tracks to your playlists.

3. AirDrop transfers

iOS lock screen on an iPhone

iOS 17.1 includes more lock screen options (Image credit: Future)

Another change made by iOS 17.1 is an improvement to AirDrop transfers: you're now able to continue transfers over Wi-Fi or cellular networks, once they've been initiated. That means you don't need to stand right next to someone for an extended period of time to send across a large number of files.

After you've updated to iOS 17.1, you'll see a new toggle switch in General > AirDrop in Settings that enables transfers over cellular networks – transfers over Wi-Fi should kick in automatically if you move out of AirDrop range.

4. Lock screen photos

There's an option called Photo Shuffle that you can use on the lock screen of your iPhone: you can find it by pressing and holding on the lock screen, then tapping the plus button, then picking Photo Shuffle.

Previously you've been limited to using galleries provided by Apple – based on themed, featured photos picked out of your Photos gallery – or a selection of images that you manually pick out. With iOS 17.1, you can choose specific albums to shuffle through, giving you a useful extra customization option.

What about bugs?

While the upgrades above are the highlights of iOS 17.1, this update also includes fixes for some annoying issues.

For example, iOS 17.1 fixes an issue where the names of incoming callers may not appear when you're on another call. It also fixes an issue that caused the keyboard to become less responsive, an issue that was causing display image persistence, and an issue causing custom and purchased ringtones to not appear as options for your text tone.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.

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