How to use Personal Voice on iOS 17: The new iPhone feature explained and what you can do with it

Apple’s latest iPhone operating system, iOS 17, has now gone live, and comes with a host of new features.

Among the most interesting is Personal Voice, which allows people to use type to speak during phone calls and FaceTime conversations, and have their phone speak in their own voice.

It can also be used in real-life conversations, making it a particularly valuable feature for people with speaking difficultues.

Here’s everything you need to know about how it works.

How do I use Personal Voice on iOS 17?

Apple’s new Personal Voice feature allows people to create a synthesised voice that sounds like their own.

They can then use this voice to type to speak in FaceTime and phone calls, assistive communication apps, and in-person conversations.

To create a Personal Voice, you will be asked read a series of randomly chosen text prompts to record 15 minutes of audio. Your speech is then processed securely on-device overnight while it is charging and connected to Wi-Fi.

Follow these steps to make your recording:

  1. Open the Settings app. Tap Accessibility, then tap Personal Voice.
  2. Tap Create a Personal Voice.
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions to record your voice.

To pause your recording session, tap Done or close the Settings app. Your progress will be saved.

To resume a recording session:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Personal Voice.
  2. Tap the Personal Voice that you want to continue creating.
  3. Tap Continue Recording, then follow the onscreen instructions.

To start using your Personal Voice you will first need to turn on Live Speech, which you can do by going to Settings > Accessibility > Live Speech.

If you have multiple voices saved you can also select which one you want to use here.

When you’re in a FaceTime or phone call and use type to speak, other participants hear your words spoken through their device’s speakers or headphones. Otherwise, the voice plays from your device’s speakers, so you can type to speak in in-person conversations.

To use Personal Voice via type to speak:

  1. Triple-click the side button (if you have an accessibility shortcut set up, tap Live Speech).
  2. Enter the text that you want spoken aloud, then tap Send.

To add a favorite phrase to Personal Voice

You can also create a list of phrases that you use often to send quickly during a conversation. To do this…

  1. Open the Settings app. Tap Accessibility, then tap Live Speech.
  2. Tap Favorite Phrases.
  3. Tap the plus button.
  4. Type a phrase, then tap Save.

How can I download iOS 17?

If you have automatic updates enabled, iOS 17 should install on your phone without you having to do anything.

However, phones may not always update immediately, so if you want the new iOS as soon as possible, go to your Settings app, tap General and then Software Update. Once the update is available it will appear here, and you can tap on it to download and install it.

Before you update, it is always a good idea to back up your phone. To do this, go to Settings [your name], tap iCloud, then click iCloud Backup.

You may also need to clear some space on your device for the update. Last year’s iOS 16 update was almost 3GB in size and you can expect similar this time around. It’s advised to be connected to Wi-Fi when you perform the back-up.

If you want to save data, make sure your phone is connected to Wi-Fi when you perform the iOS 17 update.

Which phones are compatible with iOS 17?

All new iPhone 15s will come with iOS 17 pre-installed. The following models are also compatible:

  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation or later)

For the first time, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X will not be compatible with the new update owing to their age.

What are the other new features of iOS 17?

One of the biggest new additions with iOS 17 is the arrival of a new standby mode, which turns your phone into a smart display.

If you put your phone on charge and place it landscape, it will display a customisable screen, including widgets such as a clock, calendar, weather, media and photos.

The iPhone will finally catch up with Android and introduce interactive widgets, letting you control things such as your music and the lights in your home from your home screen instead of going into an app.

Apple has finally fixed the autocorrect issues that have irritated users for years. Your phone will now learn how you like to text, which means, yes, no more “ducking” corrections.

You can now create your own customisable contact card, which will show up when you call another iPhone user, and you can share these contact cards with others using AirDrop.

For the first time, you will be able to send pre-recorded messages via FaceTime and, when you are receiving a regular voicemail, you will be able to see a live transcription of what the person is saying, helping you to decide if you want to pick up.

There is also a new Journal app, which is designed for “appreciating life’s moments and preserving your memories” – think of it like a virtual scrapbook.

For a full breakdown of all iOS 17’s features, click here.