With every iOS release there are features that everybody gets, some features that other regions get later on, and some features that never make it out of the English language box. Now that iOS 17 has been released, Apple has posted feature details for each country. The USA is the mothership iOS 17 feature complete version, the official Japanese list is missing quite a few but there are a some new Japanese features too. Let’s start with the missing.
Phone: Live Visual Voicemail and Voicemail button
These will probably never come to Japan. The big JP carriers, NTT docomo, KDDI au, SoftBank and Rakuten Mobile all, position voicemail as a pricey rip off option that doesn’t always work well. Voicemail would be much better off as basic service but carriers don’t think that way. Their corresponding budget sub-brands, ahamo, povo, Y-Mobile, etc., don’t offer voicemail as young people have grown up without the expensive option and don’t see any use for it in the smartphone app era. There is probably a lot more demand for the iOS 17 Leave a Message FaceTime feature because it come standard. Duh.
A lot missing here in the Japanese feature PDF: ‘improved autocorrect accuracy‘, ‘inline predictions‘, ‘enhanced sentence corrections‘ and ‘QuickPath‘. Some of these are just missing Japanese support, some of them don’t work in the language context (like QuickPath, the JP kana keyboard has neat flick/slide maneuvers too). On the plus side Japanese finally gets a handwriting keyboard:
‘Just say Siri‘, ‘Back to Back request‘, and ‘Siri in call‘ are not listed in the JP PDF, a sure sign Japan won’t be getting them soon. ‘Siri, read this‘ is not listed is the JP PDF but is supported nevertheless. On a related note, the Accessibility ‘Personal Voice‘ feature is not listed either.
‘ID Verifier‘ is missing of course (Tim Cook telling JP PM Kishida not to get hopes up with that silly My Number ID for Wallet request) along with the Apple Cash stuff. I had a chance to test ‘Multi-device provisioning‘ Wallet transfer and can say it’s a game changer that everybody everywhere can enjoy and use. It makes re-adding and transferring Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, WAON, nanaco, etc., easier than ever and foolproof. Now that iOS 17 Setup Assistant is multi-device provision powered it automatically and seamlessly moves everything from the old iPhone Wallet to the new iPhone Wallet. ‘I forgot to delete Suica from Wallet’ upgrade issues are a thing of the past.
TextKit 2 surprises
There are a few pleasant surprises in the iOS 17 mix. The biggest overall feature is vertical text functionality. We have ‘Vertical text recognition‘ for Live Text (finally, although it’s not as robust as Google’s version found in Google iOS apps), ‘Vertical text support‘ (Apple: “Chinese and Japanese text can be displayed vertically in supported apps and components like Contact Posters, Photos Memories, and Calendar widgets.”), ‘Punctuation white space‘ (“Reduced punctuation white space in Chinese and Japanese scripts improves overall readability and design.”). While not CJK specific Apple also lists ‘Text clipping and collision‘ (Character spacing dynamically adjusts to better accommodate non-Latin scripts) and ‘Improved line breaks‘ (Enhanced line breaking logic results in better readability of rendered text results.) It all reads exactly like TextKit 2 and UIKit dynamic text enhancements covered in the WWDC23 What’s new with text and text interactions presentation.
You can plow through the official iOS 17 new feature PDF list (E) and Japanese list that Apple has posted. Here are 15 screenshots of what I found missing comparing the USA/JP PDFs. Missing items are marked with a big red X. You can also check Apple’s iOS 17 Feature Availability page, be wary though as the list is not always accurate and up to date.