If you’re like me, you get a lot of calls every day from numbers you don’t recognize, don’t answer them, and let them go to voicemail. Then, you listen or read that voicemail transcript later in the day (if they even bothered to leave a message.) Unfortunately, while you miss many robocalls and spam calls you don’t want to take, you also miss some important ones–like from your doctor’s office, workplace, or bank.
Well, no more! With iOS 17, Apple introduces a handy near voicemail feature called Live Voicemail that shows you a live, real-time transcription of the voicemail message the caller leaves as they leave it.
Screen your callers before you answer with a real-time display of the incoming caller’s voicemail message!
So now, all you need to do is tap open Voicemail when you get a call from an unknown number (or a call from someone you know but are unsure if you want to take at that moment.) Then, you’ll see in text what they are calling about, and you can choose to answer the call (or send a text message) mid-voicemail message! Pretty awesome.
Here is how this new feature works and how you can set it up on your iPhone.
- 1 What is the new Live Voicemail feature?
- 2 How to enable or disable Live Voicemail on your iPhone
- 3 How to use Live Voicemail on your iPhone
- 4 Final thoughts
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What is the new Live Voicemail feature?
This feature means you don’t have to answer calls from anyone, not just ones from unknown numbers. Instead, your phone answers via voicemail and does the filtering for you, displaying the live scrolling text of what the person calling is saying so you can easily decide if it’s worth talking to them.
Using this feature, you can view a real-time transcription of the message someone is leaving you as they speak, giving you immediate context for the call before you decide to pick up that call or let it just go to your voicemail.
Calls identified as spam by carriers won’t appear as Live Voicemail and are instead instantly declined. The transcription is handled entirely on-device.
Compatibility of Live Voicemail for iPhone
Live voicemail works on all iPhones running iOS 17 and above. Only your iPhone needs iOS 17+. The callers do not. So it works with calls made to your iPhone from Android phones, older iPhones, and even landlines!
Currently, supported phones include the iPhone SE 2nd generation+ and the XR and above models.
How to enable or disable Live Voicemail on your iPhone
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone and choose the Phone app.
- Next, tap and toggle on Live Voicemail.
- To disable, toggle the feature off. It’s that easy!
- It is important to note that if you have Silence Unknown Callers turned on, unknown numbers will go directly to Live Voicemail without ringing you first.
- Calls that carriers identify as spam won’t appear as Live Voicemail — instead, they’ll be instantly declined.
How to use Live Voicemail on your iPhone
When you get an incoming call, tap the Voicemail icon on your screen to route that call directly to your voicemail. Or wait for the voicemail to launch automatically.
You might see a message that it’s waiting. If so, your iPhone is using its onboard intelligence to process the voicemail, and the transcription should begin in a few moments.
As the caller leaves their message, your iPhone shows a live transcription of what they’re saying.
If you decide you want to take the call while the phone is transcribing the voicemail, tap the Accept button, or if you prefer to send a text message to that person, tap the Message button.
If your iPhone is locked when you receive the call and your screen says that a message is being left, unlock it to see Live Voicemail by tapping the voicemail icon in the incoming call screen, status bar, or Dynamic Island.
You should then see a live transcription of the message that person is leaving.
When is Live Voicemail available?
The new Live Voicemail feature is currently only available in English to start with and will be initially rolled out in the US and Canada.
Will all carriers support the new Live Voicemail feature?
Section 255 of the Communications Act under the FCC requires telecommunications services, telecommunications equipment, and customer premises equipment to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities if readily achievable.
It is important to note that Verizon was sued in the courts for its premium visual voicemail case in 2022, and the FCC ruled against Verizon.
This new feature on the iPhone is also a powerful accessibility feature. We hope most US carriers supporting iPhones adopt the new Live Voicemail feature.
We really like this feature to help us filter out calls we don’t want to take and calls from numbers we don’t recognize and need to.
It’s really helpful to find out who is calling and what they’re calling about before we answer our phones and take the time to chat.
Plus, Live Voicemail works with folks in your Contacts app as well as numbers that are not known.