The new iOS 17 software from Apple has a fair number of cool features that will make your life easier, from the ability to leave FaceTime video messages for friends and family to StandBy mode, which turns your iPhone into a digital clock and smart display when you set it down in landscape mode. I also like NameDrop, which makes it easy to share your contact info with others via AirDrop and the (allegedly) more accurate autocorrect for the iPhone's keyboard.
But my favorite iOS 17 feature by far is Live Voicemail, which could save you a ton of time. It's one of those a-ha moments I experienced during WWDC 2023 and a feature I can see myself using all the time.
What is Live Voicemail in iOS 17?
The Live Voicemail feature is pretty straightforward. When someone is leaving a message, your iPhone will create a real-time transcription via the power of the Neural Engine. So as caller is still speaking, you can decide if you want to pick up.
There's lots of times I might be in the middle of something when I get a call, and if I'm busy, I might send a quick text back while the phone is ringing asking if I can call that person back. With iOS 17's Live Voicemail I won't have to do that.
To be clear, this is not a new feature for smartphones. Android has had it for a couple of years with the Pixel's Call Screen feature, starting with the Google Pixel 6. And Google's version goes even further than Apple, as Google Assistant answers the phone for you and asks questions on your behalf. But I find that someone jarring compared to simply transcribing the call in real time.
It's important to recognize that calls identified as spam by phone carriers won't appear as Live Voicemail; they'll be instantly declined. And because Live Voicemail transcription is handled on-device via Apple's Neural Engine, those transcriptions remain private.
This is just one promising iOS 17 feature I can't wait to try, but be sure to check out our roundup of the 11 best iOS 17 features so far, including StandBy Mode, the Journal app, Contact Posters and more.
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Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.