Is Apple's iOS 17 Live Voicemail Feature Too Confusing?

Apple in iOS 17 is introducing a new Live Voicemail feature that is designed to provide you with a transcript of the message that's being left as the person is speaking, so you can choose to pick up the phone if it's important.

Live Voicemail iOS 17
Live Voicemail is functional in both the developer and public betas, and the way the feature is set up has some iPhone users wondering if it's too confusing.

With the Live Voicemail feature enabled, the default voicemail message that was used in iOS 16 has changed. Unless you have a custom-created voicemail message, the default ‌iOS 17‌ voicemail recording asks callers to provide a reason why they're calling after the tone sounds, and are informed that "the person you're calling may pick up." Note that if you had a custom message in iOS 16, there will be no change, so this impacts people who are using the default voicemail greeting feature.

The "may pick up" wording seems to be confusing some people who are calling ‌iPhone‌ owners that have ‌iOS 17‌ installed. Two separate Reddit threads feature complaints from Reddit users who have received calls from people who have not understood Apple's messaging. From Reddit:

I just received a voicemail where someone explained their call and then sat in silence for 2 full minutes because they expected me to pick up. They then sent me a message about my phone not working. It seems like the current greeting when people reach live voicemail confuses them, especially since often they'll get that because I just didn't have my phone with me.

Multiple other Reddit users have had the same problem, receiving confused texts from people or odd voicemail messages that feature dead air. We here at MacRumors have also experienced this same issue. On two occasions, incoming callers heard the message, stated their name, and then waited for the phone to be picked up rather than leaving a voicemail.

It is not yet clear if Apple has plans to make any changes to the default Live Voicemail messaging ahead of when ‌iOS 17‌ launches this fall. There is an option to customize a voicemail by going to Phone > Voicemail > Greeting > Custom, which can provide a solution as you can record your own message.

If you have the ‌iOS 17‌ beta and are running into trouble with Live Voicemail and don't want to create a custom voicemail message, the feature can be disabled by opening up the Settings app, going to the Phone section, tapping on the Live Voicemail option, and toggling it off.

Related Roundups: iOS 17, iPadOS 17
Related Forums: iOS 17, iPadOS 17

Top Rated Comments

Soba Avatar
11 weeks ago
This seems over-engineered. Just play the voicemail greeting as normal and give the recipient the option of picking up. You know, like we used to do with answering machines.

I don’t want to announce to incoming callers that I’m screening my calls.
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ignatius345 Avatar
11 weeks ago
I'd rather just have my normal outgoing message play, and let me spy on it in progress if I wish/care. I definitely don't need the outgoing message throwing me under the bus as listening in and "maybe" going to pick up.

Also, if this feature gets used widely we're all going to get voicemails that say "if you're there can you please pick up?" just like we did when we were all using physical answering machines at home.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chucker23n1 Avatar
11 weeks ago
Is "may pick up" a confusing phrase for some people? It doesn't mean "will pick up".
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
matttarantino Avatar
11 weeks ago
I too have experienced this with my family/friends. They should just leave the previous greeting you had. If you answer, you answer.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sheepish-Lord Avatar
11 weeks ago
Simply unnecessary effort by Apple. Let people leave a message like normal then give the USER the experience of seeing what is being said. I don’t care what people calling me hear, either leave a damn message or hang up.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HorstBockman Avatar
11 weeks ago
Landlines with answering machines didn't make such silly pronouncements. No reason an iPhone should do so.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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