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Apple's iOS 17 Live Voicemails Bring Back a Feature of Old-School Tech

The latest software gives voicemails a retro update.

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Katelyn Chedraoui Associate Writer
Katelyn is an associate writer with CNET covering apps, software and online services. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in media and journalism. You can often find her with a paperback and an iced coffee during her time off.
Katelyn Chedraoui
2 min read
Apple iOS 17 logo on iPhone on green background
James Martin/CNET

Apple's iOS 17 is here, and one of the new features is live voicemail, which allows iPhone users to read transcripts of voicemails being left in real time.

This new feature functions a lot like an old answering machine, only with text. When you get a voicemail, you can see what the caller is saying in real time. As you're reading along -- before the call ends -- you can pick up and be connected with the caller. 

For now, this feature is only available in English for US and Canada-based Apple users who have iOS 17. To check which operating system your iPhone is running, you can go to Settings > General > Software Update. If you're in need of an update, this is where you'll be prompted to do that (we can walk you through how to download iOS 17).

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Watch this: 10 Must-Try Hidden iOS 17 Features on Your iPhone

Once you have iOS 17, you can turn this feature on (or off) through Settings > Phone > Live Voicemail. Then you'll be ready to go once your phone starts ringing.

In reviewing the new iOS 17 features, CNET's Patrick Holland said that live voicemails are "powered by your iPhone's neural engine in order to preserve your privacy," comparing it to Google's Call Screen feature on its Pixel phones.

This function is one of many updates included in iOS 17. Other key features include StandBy mode, custom iMessage stickers, contact posters and offline maps.

For more, check out CNET's iOS 17 cheat sheet, how to fix annoying iOS 17 features and what to do if you don't see the update for iOS 17