Apple’s Communication Safety feature for iPhone — designed to protect children from viewing nude images over iMessage — is being expanded to cover adult users in addition to video content and other communication methods. Announced during the WWDC event on Monday, the protections will arrive with iOS 17 later this year with all image and video processing happening right on the device itself to ensure everything is kept private, even from Apple.
The Communication Safety in Messages feature uses on-device machine learning to automatically blur nude images in iMessages before a child can view them. With iOS 17, the expanded feature will also protect children from viewing or sharing photos that contain nudity via AirDrop, new Contact Posters, FaceTime messages, and when browsing their image library using Photo Picker. Alongside still images, it can also scan video content for nudity. Apple hasn’t confirmed if this feature will also apply to live video content such as FaceTime video calls — we’ve reached out for clarification and will update this story should we hear back.
Right now, the Communication Safety tool is an opt-in feature within Apple’s existing Family Sharing system. It can only be applied to iMessages until iOS 17 arrives sometime in the fall. When enabled, the feature currently detects if a child is sending or receiving images that could contain nudity, subsequently warning the child and blurring the photograph before it’s viewed on the minor’s device. The child is also presented with helpful resources and the option to message a trusted adult for additional support.
Adults will soon also be able to reap similar protections from unsolicited nudes. “Sensitive Content Warning” is a new feature coming to iOS 17 that will warn users of any age if an image or video they’re receiving contains nudity. The content will be flagged in a pop-up message that asks users if they wish to view it anyway, alongside some reassurance and helpful guidance on staying safe, such as “It’s not your fault, but naked photos and videos can be used to hurt you.”