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New in iOS 17! Child safety and sensitive content warnings

  • Nude photos on kids’ devices automatically blurred in iOS 17
  • iOS screens images on-device, with no data sent to Apple
  • Sensitive content warnings can also be set up for adults

Think of the children

With iOS 17, Apple is making a concerted effort to make its software more appropriate for kids, expanding on some existing safety features.

Communication safety

Although Apple walked back controversial plans to scan iCloud uploads for inappropriate images, in iOS 16, on-device checks remain as an opt-in service for Family Plan users to block nudes from their kids’ devices.

When toggled on, nude or pornographic images are automatically blurred when detected in the Messages app – whether they’re sending or receiving. iOS then presents a content warning and links to helpful resources, all written with minors in mind. There’s an option to message a trusted adult for support.

Powerful and on by default

With iOS 17, that functionality is expanding to other ways of sharing, such as AirDrop, FaceTime, and even third-party apps. Images will be blurred anywhere they’re detected by the on-device checks. Think of it like a porn blocker for personal communications.

It’s also now an opt-out feature for kids under 13. If a child is signed into their Apple ID and part of a Family Sharing group, all nude images will be blurred by default. Parents can switch this off from their Family Sharing settings if they wish to.

A note on privacy

For those worried about their kids’ photos being scanned, rest assured nothing leaves the device. Here’s Apple’s explanation:

“Messages analyzes image attachments and determines if a photo contains nudity, while maintaining the end-to-end encryption of the messages. The feature is designed so that no indication of the detection of nudity leaves the device. Apple does not get access to the messages, and no notifications are sent to the parent or anyone else.”

Sensitive content warning

You can now optionally turn on a similar filter for all users, not just kids. This setting is distinct from Communication Safety, but works in a very similar way.

If you want to blur nude images on your own device, head to Settings > Privacy & Security > Sensitive Content Warning and toggle the setting on. With this activated, images will be blurred when you first see them, but you’ll have the option to press Show if you want to see them.