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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

iOS 17’s Live Voicemail finally makes this iOS 13 feature useful for me

Some software features have a delayed impact, like the clap of thunder reaching you seconds after a lightning strike. They may not be useful right away, but at some point something comes along that makes you realize that they’re just what you needed.

For example, take Apple’s introduction of Live Voicemail in iOS 17. Not only is this technologically impressive feature—which uses your phone to answer incoming calls and transcribe the voicemail being left as it happens—handy in and of itself, but it actually reverberates backwards through time to make an older iOS feature more useful.

Because Live Voicemail finally means I can turn on another feature that I’ve been tempted to use since iOS 13: Silence Unknown Callers.1

I’ve always been reticent to turn on Silence Unknown Callers because I worry too much about missing important calls. There are simply too many times that I get a call I don’t want to miss from, say, a doctor’s office, or a delivery person, or a contractor. Let’s be frank: I’m not going to add all these people to my contact list. And in some cases, even if I do have them in my contacts—the urgent care line in my child’s pediatrician’s office comes to mind—a call doesn’t always come from the same number.

But in iOS 17, if you have Silence Unknown Callers active, callers with unrecognized numbers will go straight to Live Voicemail, allowing you to decide whether or not to pick up. (Meanwhile, numbers that are already marked as spam by, say, your carrier, won’t even trigger this.) For those of us old enough to remember answering machines, it’s the equivalent of screening your calls. It helps insure that you can still get the benefit of not having to answer every call while not ending up playing phone tag with that one person you’ve been trying to catch.

  1. Settings > Phone > Silence Unknown Callers. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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