One of the more interesting iOS 17 features Apple unveiled during its WWDC keynote was iOS 17’s new Live Voicemail feature, which shows a transcription of an incoming voicemail on-screen so iPhone users can decide whether they want to answer the call.
MobileSyrup is able to confirm that the feature will not rely on carriers, and wireless providers shouldn’t be able to mess with the feature by turning it into a paid add-on. Hopefully, that means we won’t end up with a situation like visual voicemail, where despite tons of phones supporting the capability, users need to pay their carrier extra money each month to actually use it.
The carrier-agnostic nature of Live Voicemail comes from how the feature was implemented. MobileSyrup understands that Apple is effectively intercepting and answering the call before it gets to the carrier’s voicemail service to show the transcript. This process likely also makes it smoother for call recipients to step in and answer the call after seeing the transcription. If recipients don’t pick up, the voicemail gets passed along to the carrier.
It remains unclear whether this process happens directly on the iPhone, though given Apple’s privacy-centric marketing, I’d expect this to be the case.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that Live Voicemail sounds a lot like Google’s Call Screen feature for Pixels. The key difference, however, is that Call Screen works on live calls — users have to choose to activate Call Screen and can then see a live transcript on their phone, select different automated responses and answer or end the call. In the U.S., Call Screen has additional functionality and can automatically intercept some calls, like suspected spam, without disturbing the user.
Live Voicemail, on the other hand, happens when iPhone users don’t answer an incoming call. For callers, the experience will be like leaving a normal voicemail (unlike Call Screen, in which callers will speak to the Google Assistant). Call recipients can still jump into the call if it’s important like with Call Screen. Overall, Live Voicemail sounds like it should be a little smoother for both caller and recipient, though it’ll be interesting to see how the two stack up once Live Voicemail is released.
Header image credit: Apple