iOS 17 from a neurodivergent perspective

How is the new OS helping me focus?

iOS 17 from a neurodivergent perspective


Welcome to Hello Computer. A newsletter about being different. I’m Pete Carr (they/them) an autistic(awaiting ADHD diagnosis) writer and photographer identifying as non-binary.


The photos in this post are from the recent Super Blue Moon. It wasn’t very blue but it was quite super.

Super blue moon rises through the clouds over the Liverpool waterfront.

Captain’s Log

Gosh it’s been a busy week. Fun, but busy. The big news is I got my ADHD diagnosis on Saturday. ADHD type inattentive. I will write more about that another day, but it is good to have the reason… squirrel! Sorry. It’s good to checks iPhone delivery date to see if its changed and goes on to look at USB C cables

A little while later… So, it’s good to know why I get distracted and find it hard to get anything done.

Lots to ponder and discuss. Stay tuned.

iOS 17


iOS 17 is coming. It launches on 18th September to every iPhone from the XS onwards (XS, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15) along with iPadOS 17 for;

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad (6th generation and later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation and later)

macOS Sonoma launches a week later on the 26th.

I’ve been using iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma for a few months, and the beta has been fine. No buggier than a normal non-beta OS. There’s a whole bunch of new features, improvements and fun things. Here’s a quick overview of what I’ve found useful as a neurodivergent person.

Even more accurate autocorrect

Autocorrect delivers even better support as you type. Autocorrected words are temporarily underlined so you know what’s been changed and you can revert to the original word with just a tap.

The new autocorrect system is good. It shows you a faint word ahead of what you are typing if it thinks it knows where the sentence is going. All you do to complete it is hit space.

Adaptive Audio on AirPods Pro 2

Unfortunately, I have AirPods Pro 1. I haven’t been able to test these new features, but they er… sound great.

With an entirely new listening mode for AirPods Pro (2nd generation), Adaptive Audio dynamically blends Transparency and Active Noise Cancellation to tailor the noise control experience as you move between changing environments and interactions throughout the day.

Personalised Volume uses machine learning to fine-tune your media experience based on your preferences over time 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.

I can see a point in the future where AirPods Pro are essential for everyday use by autistic people to prevent sensory overload.

Health App

New mental health and vision health features provide powerful insights.

Built into the Health app is Mood Tracking. I’ve used various apps over the years that have similar features and while they seem useful, the issue I have is I forget to use them. Even with notifications turned on, I ignore them and regret subscribing to the app. At least with them being built into the OS I won’t be losing money by ignoring the notifications.

Mood Tracking asks you 2 questions. How do you feel right now or how do you feel today ranging from very pleasant to very unpleasant? After that, you go on to explain why you are feeling that way by selecting from a list of subjects like work, identity, partner, hobbies, etc.

It’s basic, but it is good to have built into the phone. The problem is that nothing is done with the data. Something for iOS 18 or 19? Apple Health can show you how your physical fitness is trending but right now it can’t help with your mental health. I hope that in the future it can remind me that a 30-minute workout will have a positive effect on me because the data I’ve logged proves it has before.


Assistive Access distills apps and experiences to essential features to support those with cognitive disabilities. Personal Voice helps people with speech loss create a voice that sounds like them, and use it with Live Speech to communicate in calls and conversations. And Point and Speak makes it easier for people with vision disabilities to interact with physical objects that have text labels.

Point and Speak works well. It will tell you if the text is upside down and when your hand is detected. It is enabled via the Magnifier app, and then tapping on the [] like button.

In the “Motion” section of Accessibility, there is a toggle for “Dim Flashing Lights” which can help reduce the effect of strobing or flashing lights. Not everyone thinks to warn people in their TikTok/YouTube videos, so it’s nice to see the OS step in and dim the lights.

Personal Voice is a way of teaching your phone your voice so that if something renders you speechless, you can use your phone to speak for you. No one ever expects that this will happen so I would suggest taking the time to set it up. It takes 15 minutes of saying random phrases to your phone, and then a few hours of background processing to put it together. Once done, you can use type to speak via an Accessibility setting to type messages and have your phone “speak” in your voice.

The results are noticeably robotic but, recognisably you.

Safari Profiles

Safari Profiles are brilliant. They let you create a work and personal profile to help you separate work browsing from personal browsing. I have them tied into my Work and Personal Focus Modes which means at 9 AM on a Monday my phone switches into Work Focus Mode and anything I was randomly looking at over the weekend is hidden in Safari.

I have found this incredibly useful for helping me stay focused. If I open Safari during a Work Focus Mode I only see recent work tabs and tab groups. I have groups for writing newsletters, client ideas, research, etc. When I “clock off” in the evening my phone switches to the Personal Focus Mode and I can see my tab groups for video games, fashion, random ideas I’m looking into, etc. It has helped me not get sucked into work so I can let go of something stressing me out and not see it until I need to the next day. As a freelancer with 1 phone that I use for personal and work activities, it is very hard to keep those separated. It all blends and you often feel like you’re always at work.

At certain times of the day, my Apple ecosystem switches from Personal to Work. Everything changes and syncs. My Apple Watch face switches from Snoopy to a Pride one with lots of useful information for the workday. My iPhone’s Homescreen changes showing different apps and widgets. The Lockscreen also changes wallpaper and widgets. Even my email app, Outlook, switches to show my work email account and hides my personal one until the Focus Mode switches back.

After decades of computer use, I finally have built-in tools to separate freelance work from downtime. I’m glad these tools exist and that Apple is updating them.

Other useful features

Check In automatically notifies your friend or family member when you arrive at your destination, such as your home.

You now have the option to blur sensitive photos and videos before you choose to view them. This feature will be available in Messages, AirDrop, Contact Posters in the Phone app, FaceTime messages and third‑party apps.


The Journal app looks intriguing but it hasn’t been in any of the betas so far. Apple says it is coming later this year. Maybe it will be part of 17.1?

Using on-device machine learning, your iPhone creates personalised suggestions of moments for you to remember and write about based on your photos, music, workouts and more.

I have been using Day One for my journaling needs for a very long time. While I don’t do it often, it’s very good. I assume Day One will be better than Apple’s Journal app as it has integrations and automations with external services. For casual journaling, Apple’s app might be good enough.

Thoughts after a beta summer

It’s another solid update to iOS that helps me be focused and productive. I recognise the importance of stopping work and doing other activities rather than work work work. Having my devices hide all that and show me fun things instead is great. Similarly, when in work mode I have quick access to tab groups for accounting or publishing.

The health features need more insights and maybe one day my phone will be able to suggest useful changes to my life. I’ve got over a decade of workout info in there, do something with it.

Bit by bit my phone is becoming a real PDA that can help manage my work life, keep me productive, manage my physical health, keep track of my mental health and with great accessibility features it helps me interact with the world. This tool with all that data on me, can only get more useful as technology progresses.

Super blue moon rises through the clouds over the Liverpool waterfront. The river is calm and the reflection of the orange moon stretches across it.

Transporter room

Super blue moon rises through the clouds over the Liverpool waterfront. A tug sails down river.

End program

“Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous.” Christopher Pike, Captain USS Discovery.

Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. I’ll be back. Feel free to subscribe or send to a friend.

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petes out 🖖

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Super blue moon rises through the clouds over the Liverpool waterfront.

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