Apple Confirms iOS 17.4 Lets Video Calling Apps Turn Off Reactions

Apple today publicly confirmed that iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4 allow developers of video calling apps to turn off the Reactions feature by default in their apps.

ios 17 facetime effects
As we reported earlier this month, developers can control the default behavior of Reactions in their apps with a new API for iOS 17.4, iPadOS 17.4, and likely macOS 14.4. The updates are expected to be released to the public in March.

Apple's developer notes for the iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4 Release Candidates:

Developers can control the default behavior of Reactions with the key […] This is controlled per application and user choice will override application declared defaults.

For example, video conferencing app Zoom could use Apple's new API to turn off the Reactions feature in its app by default. iPhone and iPad users who manually turn Reactions back on in Control Center would still be able to use the feature in the app.

Reactions remain turned on by default on iOS 17.4 overall, so they still work in FaceTime and in apps that do not use the API without any further steps required.


Starting with iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma, you can make hand gestures during video calls in the FaceTime app and other video conferencing apps to fill the screen with 3D effects. For example, you can hold two thumbs up to show fireworks on the screen, or make two peace signs with your hands to show confetti.

Unfortunately, many users are unaware that this new feature is turned on by default, which has led to some awkward and embarrassing moments during important video calls, such as online therapy sessions and business meetings.

Instead of turning off Reactions by default altogether, Apple is allowing developers to control the feature on a per-app basis with this new API.

MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris assisted with this story.

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

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Top Rated Comments

erikkfi Avatar
15 weeks ago
Why would you not offer robust controls for this at the outset? Honestly, Apple, sometimes it's like you don't think.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HVDynamo Avatar
15 weeks ago

The company has been spinning their wheels (software wise) since Snow Leopard in my opinion.

Apple should be ashamed that something like that happened to a Senator on live TV using their software.
It's this stupid annual cycle they decided they needed to do for some reason. Computers are a mature platform, there just isn't much to add anymore that's actually useful so they stuff it with all this gimmicky crap to make it seem new and fresh. I'd like to go back to a new OS every 2-3 years with a longer run time to allow more bugs to be fixed. The annual cycle is tiring and I'm over it.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
eicca Avatar
15 weeks ago
Once again Apple backtracking on shoving features down our throats.

It doesn’t matter if you think it’s cool, Apple, you’re not always right.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MallardDuck Avatar
15 weeks ago
These should be disabled by default period. It was completely embarrassing to have that crap appear during a business call. People use Macs for work - not just facetime with junior high kids.

Putting the preference buried and only accessible when the camera is on was just adding insult to injury.

Right up there with the touch bar as a bad idea that never should have seen the light of day.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jvchappy Avatar
15 weeks ago
You mean holding up the peace sign while talking to my therapist about my GF "peacing out" and breaking my heart will no longer show confetti? Great. Another reason to cry myself to sleep
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HVDynamo Avatar
15 weeks ago
I haven't had any video calls yet, but how do I nuke this feature entirely? Not only am I not interested in it, I literally don't want it to happen, ever. This kind of thing should have been purely opt in only, or at least the first time you went to do a video chat, there should have been a prompt asking if you want to enable it or not. It should be able to be disabled from a system level.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)