The iPhone 15 will block nude photos

Say goodbye to unwanted appendages in Messages, AirDrop, FaceTime and third party apps too

iOS 17 communication safety
(Image credit: Apple)

When it comes to technology, one thing's certain: some people will use it to send unsolicited, unwanted and unpleasant images to others. That's going to be less of a concern with iOS 17, which will launch at the same time as the iPhone 15.

There's a feature in iOS 16 called communication safety, pictured above, and while that one is designed for kids' accounts it's going to work in more apps and be available for users of all ages in iOS 17. It's a good feature for parents, but I think it's also going to be useful for anyone who has been, or doesn't want to be, exposed to creepy communications.

What does Communication Safety do in iOS 17?

Communication Safety already lives in Screen Time alongside the existing family safety features on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. To enable it, tap the name of the child in your family group, tap on Communication Safety, and then turn on Check for Sensitive Photos.

That feature uses machine learning to analyse incoming photos in Messages in order to identify what their content may be. If the algorithm reckons it might be a sexual image, the app blurs it and marks it as potentially sensitive content. Messages will then tell the user it's okay if they don't want to see it, and will offer three options: message a grown-up, block the contact, or find out other ways to get help. 

In iOS 17 the feature gets much more useful because it won't just be in Messages and it won't just be for kids. Communication safety will also work in other apps including AirDrop, the new Contact Posters feature and FaceTime messages. Apple hasn't yet said whether it'll also work with FaceTime video calls. 

From a privacy point of view, there's nothing here to worry about: all the analysis happens on the device so any images you send that might have been wrongly identified as nudity won't be tagged and stored on Apple's servers. 

It's saddening that such a feature is necessary but I think it strikes the right balance between protecting kids and going too heavy on filtering. iOS 17 is expected to launch in late September 2023.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (