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What is Live Voicemail in iOS 17?

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What is Live Voicemail in iOS 17?
Apple has unveiled iOS 17, and with it a bunch of new features and improvements, such as StandBy, Contact Posters, and – our focus for this article – Live Voicemail.

This feature is set to modernize voicemail and make it a lot more useful, so much so that it may even tempt those who’ve turned off voicemail on their phone or never check it.


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But what exactly is Live Voicemail and how can you get it? Below we’ve outlined everything you need to know about this promising new iPhone feature.



What is Live Voicemail?


What is Live Voicemail


With normal voicemail you have to wait until someone’s finished leaving a message and then you can play it back, but Live Voicemail is more immediate, as it lets you read a live transcription of a voicemail as it’s being left.


As it’s text rather than audio, it’s not disruptive, and as it’s immediate it gives you a chance to see why someone is calling and to answer the phone before they hang up, if you decide you want to.


Live Voicemail is also all handled on-device, using your iPhone’s Neural Engine, so it’s completely private, and if a call is identified as spam by a carrier then it won’t have access to Live Voicemail – instead the call will be instantly declined, so you shouldn’t be getting too many spam Live Voicemails.


The fact that Live Voicemail uses text could also make it particularly beneficial to anyone with a hearing impairment.



How does Live Voicemail work?


How does Live Voicemail work


With Live Voicemail, if you receive a call that goes to voicemail, then rather than missing your chance to answer, the screen will remain on, and a live transcription of the message being left will start appearing.


There will also be a button on the screen to accept the call – in which case you can interrupt the caller while they’re leaving the voicemail. There will be another button too, to either send them a message (if they're one of your contacts) or to block them (if they're not).


Or you can just do nothing and read the whole voicemail they’re leaving, before deciding whether to call them back.



How do you get Live Voicemail?



How do you get Live Voicemail


Live Voicemail requires iOS 17, which at the time of writing hasn’t launched yet. We’re expecting this to arrive on iPhones in or around September.


When it does, iOS 17 will support all iPhones from the iPhone XS onwards, including the iPhone 14 series and the upcoming iPhone 15 line, so it – and presumably the Live Voicemail component of it – will be widely available on the best iPhones.


However, if you can’t wait until September to get it, there is an iOS 17 beta that you can access now. For full information on this, check out our guide covering how to download the iOS 17 beta on your iPhone.



How do you activate Live Voicemail in iOS 17?

Once you have iOS 17, Live Voicemail should work automatically (at least, that’s the case in the current beta). So you just need to wait for someone to call.


Alternatively, you can also deactivate it if you’d rather not use it. To do this, head to Settings, and from there tap on the Phone app. That contains a Live Voicemail toggle, which simply lets you turn it on or off.


Of course, it's possible that the process or whether it's enabled by default will change in the finished version of iOS 17, but we'll have to wait a little longer to find out if that's the case.

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