New iOS 17 feature automatically censors explicit images

Communication safety features on an iPhoneApple

A new iOS 17 feature is able to automatically block incoming messages and files that might feature explicit imagery or sensitive content.

Apple’s latest version of iOS was announced at WWDC 2023, and one feature that seemingly went under the radar until now is “Opt-in blurring”. This allows you to censor images in applications such as messages, AirDrop, Phone, and other third-party apps, according to MacRumors.

The feature will allow nudity to be blocked by default, with a “show” button appearing, if you wish to view the image. This is a part of Apple’s continued efforts in Communication Safety, which seeks to ensure that Apple devices are safe for children to operate.

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Detection of the explicit imagery itself will all be completed on-device, so the feature could even work while you are offline. Similar functionality was introduced last year but was seemingly restricted to the messages app, according to The Verge.

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Third-party support could be crucial

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Support for the feature on third-party apps such as browsers may prove to be crucial in ensuring that children surfing the web unsupervised don’t see anything that they are not meant to. In its current iteration, the Communication Safety features in the Messages app may be a good template to see how it might work in iOS 17.

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If it’s a messaging app, then Apple’s own solution has contextual pop-ups telling the user that they are able to “message a grown-up” if they receive unwanted explicit imagery, in addition to further ways to get help, and offering safety resources. But, for all of this to work outside of Apple’s ecosystem, you would also require full support from third-party app developers, with similar resources and contextual pop-ups if a user selects the Communication Safety options on their device.

We expect iOS 17 to land later this year, and with it, more details on upcoming features.

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