How to use iOS 17’s Live Voicemail


Live Voicemail is an iOS 17 feature that lets you read a transcription of a caller’s message in real time. If what they say sounds urgent, you can pick up the call and chat while they’re still on the line; if not, read along with the message without playing it back (handy for especially long-winded pals). Here’s how to activate and use Live Voicemail to save time on calls and messaging.

First, you’ll want to make sure the feature is turned on. Navigate to Settings > Phone > Live Voicemail, and toggle it on if it isn’t already. (It’s on by default).

Once it’s activated, the feature is pretty self-explanatory to use. If you receive a call you can’t or don’t want to pick up, hit the voicemail button on the incoming call screen to send it there. Or you can wait for it to forward automatically.

What is Live Voicemail?

When the caller begins leaving a message, you’ll hear a brief chime and see the live transcription on your Lock Screen. (If your phone is locked, it will prompt you to tap a button to use Face ID and unlock it before you can see the message.) Or, if you’re using your phone when the message comes in, you’ll see a voicemail icon in the Dynamic Island or your phone’s status bar on older models. Tap that to view the message as it’s spoken.

Apple executive Craig Federighi (blue button-down shirt, black slacks) standing in a room in Apple Park (modern gray aesthetic with trees visible outside the windows). On a screen behind him is a demonstration of live voicemail.

Apple

In our testing, the service is reliable at transcribing American and British accents. The words appear on your phone within a second or so of the caller speaking them.

If you decide to take the call after all, you can pick it up while they’re leaving a message. Press the “accept” button while viewing the Live Voicemail transcription, and you’ll immediately jump into the call — like in the old days when people had landline answering machines.

You can go back and listen to Live Voicemail messages later. They’re stored in the Voicemail tab at the bottom right of the Phone app. They’ll exist alongside any standard voicemails sent through your carrier. Apple says all of the transcriptions happen on-device, so you don’t need to worry about your private messages leaking.

How to turn off Live Voicemail

If you ever decide the feature isn’t for you, you can head back to Settings > Phone > Live Voicemail and toggle it back off.



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