The Best and Worst New iOS 17.2 Features for Your iPhone

iOS 17.2 is finally here, but are new Apple features like Journal worth checking out? We separate the best from the rest.

Apple has released the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 17.2, with the new OS now available to download on iPhone and iPad devices. In this guide, I’ll take you through the best new iOS 17.2 features you’ll want to check out – and which updates you can leave at the door.

Having just installed Apple’s new software myself, I’ll also take you through the basics of how to download iOS 17.2, including the installation time you can expect to encounter during its early days out in the wild.

Two of the headline iOS 17.2 features I’ll look at are Apple’s new Spatial Video recording and its eagerly anticipated Journal app, which we’ve been waiting for since it was first announced back at WWDC in June. Ready to go? Let’s take a look at everything the latest iOS 17 update has to offer.

Apple Journal App is iOS 17.2’s Best New Feature

The wait is now over and Apple’s Journal app has been released as part of the iOS 17.2 update. The benefits of gratitude journaling are well documented, so Apple’s development of a native mental health app that encourages everyone to engage in the mindfulness practice feels both well-timed and potentially impactful.

Having used Journal for the first time today, it’s the best and most universally useful new feature of iOS 17.2 to my eye.  The strength of the Journal app is that is offers suggestions to get you reflecting on your life, from simple prompts (“Write about something that brought you unexpected joy recently”) to AI suggested visual ones.

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Its “Moments” feature is closely aligned with “Memories” in Photos and surfaces snaps it thinks will resonate with you. Journal can also remind you of the locations you’ve visited and even the workouts you’ve done as it looks to help you better appreciate your life. All of these suggestions can be disable for privacy reasons, if you want, but they really are this wellbeing tool’s main selling point.

The other selling point is the simplicity of the interface, which won’t win as design prizes, but by stripping things back encourages you to really tune in to your thoughts and feelings. If you’re concerned about the lack of aesthetic, I’d argue you’re missing the point. All in all, it’s a new iOS 17 feature that emphasizes substance over sizzle reel potential – a good thing as the other main iOS 17.2 update is basically an extended marketing stunt.

Official press renders of Apple's new Journal app, available as new iOS 17.2 feature

What is Spatial Video Capture? iOS 17.2 Feature is Basically Useless

The second biggest iOS 17.2 update is Spatial Video, which is a new camera shooting mode that allows you to capture 3D videos by simultaneously shooting from your iPhone’s primary and UltraWide lenses.

This sounds great on paper and is definitely the “sexy” new iOS 17.2 Apple wants everyone to get excited about, but there are some major caveats you should know about, like Spatial Video only being available on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

On top of that, there’s also the question of what to do with any spatial footage you do record. The 3D videos are designed to be viewed on Apple’s Vision Pro headset, which is prohibitively priced at $3,499 and isn’t even released until next year anyway.

Throw in a minimum of $1,000 for a compatible iPhone 15 and you’re looking at the best part of $5k to record and watch 3D videos the Apple way, which certainly isn’t going to be for everyone. With upgrading to the iPhone 15 not necessarily worth it to begin with, we’ll leave this one to the 1%.

New iOS 17.2 feature Spatial Video footage being shot on beach (official Apple photo)

7 More iOS 17.2 Features to Check Out Today

The two headline new iOS 17.2 features are the Journal app and Spatial Video support. However, that’s far from the end of new features Apple are throwing our way. Here are the others:

iMessage Contact Key Verification

This one has been teased since back in 2022, but for many iPhone users, it’s could be the most important iOS 17.2 update of them all. Contact Key Verification is designed for journalists, activists, and government officials who may face “extraordinary digital threats,” such as having their conversations spied on via a cloud server breach.

With state-sponsored hacking more prevalent than ever before, it’s an important additional line of defense for those who might find their personal and data security targeted by bad actors.

Action button adds Translate powers

If you’ve got a new-gen iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max, you can now configure your device’s Action button to launch iOS 17’s Translate app. Whether you’re travelling for business or backpacking after finishing college, it’s a seriously useful addition.

Siri gets Health app integration

Siri continues to get smarter with each iOS update, with the latest version Apple digital helper relay information from the Health app. This means you’ll be able to ask Siri to feedback things like your daily step count or current heart-rate.

Easy Sticker Reactions Come to Messages

Adding sticker reactions in iMessages just got a whole lot easier, with iOS 17.2 adding the ability to long press on your chat and add a sticker (or emoji) reaction in seconds. Before, you could only drag stickers into your chats, so this is a small but seriously handy update

Apple Music Gets Favorites Playlist

The latest version of the Apple Music app will now aggregate a Favorites playlist from all the songs you’ve favorited – a feature I was surprised it didn’t already have, but one that arrives just in time for the holidays.

Apple TV App > iTunes App

You’ll no longer be able to buy or rent TV shows and movies in the iTunes app, with all the action now taking place in the Apple TV app.

Memojis Grow Up

Memojis, Apple’s popular custom emoji feature, will now let you give your digital avatar a body! Specifically, you’ll be able to customize your waist, bust, shoulder and arms.

How to Download iOS 17.2 Today and Install Time

Downloading iOS 17.2 for your iPhone (or its iPad equivalent, iPadOS 17.2) is relatively easy. If you’ve updated to new versions of iOS before, you’ll be familiar with the process, and even if you haven’t it’s straightforward and can be done in a few simple taps.

On your device, just follow the Settings > General > Software Update pathway, then hit Install Now. Additional on-screen instructions will follow, but really after that it’s just a waiting game.

When I downloaded iOS 17.2, the initially quoted download time on good corporate Wi-Fi was just shy of an hour. In actual fact, it probably took more like 90 minutes. This isn’t a surprise, as given iOS 17.2 has just been released, millions of iPhone users all over the world are trying to install it all at once.

This puts a fairly heaven burden on Apple’s servers and slows things down. Over the next few days, the digital traffic should ease slightly, but if you’re getting it today be prepared to wait.

As a final note, know that you need to be connected to Wi-Fi to download iOS 17.2. It’s a chunky update and downloading it over mobile data just isn’t viable, even if you’ve got 5G.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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