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iOS 17 has a brilliant iPhone password feature I hope I never have to use

Published Jun 16th, 2023 8:48AM EDT
New iOS 17 features.
Image: Apple

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The first iOS 17 beta release has been out for a week, and early adopters are still discovering new features that Apple built into the new iPhone operating system. One example is the new iPhone password feature in iOS 17 that I hope I’ll never have to use, even though it’s great to know that it’s available.

iOS 17 might make forgetting your iPhone password impossible, as it’ll offer you a 72-hour grace period after you change your password. During that time, your old password will continue to work. That’s a great feature to have that could save you some hassle.

Always use a password with the iPhone

I routinely remind you to use strong, unique passwords for your online logins, and to change those passwords periodically. Well, the same principle applies to iPhones and any other password-protected computer.

The password/PIN/Face ID combo is what encrypts your device. You don’t want to use a passwordless iPhone, as anyone could get into the handset and snoop on your private data.

The Face ID authentication method is the best way to unlock the iPhone and prevent others from seeing you input the PIN or passcode. And I will remind you that some iPhone thieves will hover over your shoulder to see your password so they can steal your handset.

iPhone 14 Pro Lock Screen.
iPhone 14 Pro Lock Screen. Image source: José Adorno for BGR

Forgetting your iPhone password is a real problem

On the same note, I’ll remind you that you might be better off using a longer, stronger iPhone lock screen password than the default six-digit PIN. With longer passwords, those smart thieves might have difficulty seeing what you type in. But the longer that password is, the higher the risk of forgetting it after you reset it.

Once you forget the iPhone password, you risk losing your most recent personal data. Unless you back up frequently, of course. You’ll have to erase the iPhone and set it up again. There’s no other fix.

That’s the reason why I think this new iOS 17 feature is so smart. At the same, it’s not a feature I ever want to rely on. Better said, I’d love it if I never forgot my new iPhone password.

iOS 17 feature saves the day

iOS 17 might make those hassles a thing of the past, thanks to a newly discovered feature. Found by MacRumors, the new feature lets you reset the iPhone password using your previous one. The trick here is that you have to take advantage of the feature within 72 hours of a password change. That’s probably the most likely time to forget a new password.

If you have iOS 17 installed, you can already take advantage of the feature. First, change your password or passcode to something new. Then head on to the Lock Screen and enter the wrong one.

iPhone is disabled after entering a number of wrong PIN/passwords.
Before iOS 17: iPhone is disabled after entering a number of wrong PIN/passwords. Image source: Apple Inc.

You can then tap the Forgot Passcode? option and then go for the Try Passcode Reset option. A new screen will appear, allowing you to enter the previous passcode.

This also presents an obvious security issue. If others know your previous password, then this feature is a liability. They’ll have 72 hours to log into your device using that old passcode. Thankfully, iOS 17 also has a switch in place that lets you disable the functionality. Just tap the Expire Previous Passcode Now option after you’ve changed your iPhone password, and the old passcode will stop working.

One more thing…

While we are talking about iPhone security, I’ll remind you that you can take additional steps so those smart thieves out there can’t steal your Apple ID even if they get your iPhone’s password. There is a way to lock your Apple ID so nobody can access it. You’ll want to enable that if you use your passcode in the open rather than Face ID. By the way, that’s another password that protects your Apple ID.

Craig Federighi acknowledged the iPhone theft issue during an interview last week, saying Apple has continued to “look at other ways to address” this attack. However, it’s unclear whether iOS 17 will feature Apple ID protections in the future.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.