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Apple adds some thrill to FaceTime with iOS 17 macOS Sonoma, allowing users to see colorful, celebratory reactions when they use certain gestures. This, however, is something you don’t want to have during serious therapy sessions.

Telehealth company SimplePractice has been warning its customers about this feature. As Mastodon user Matt Haughey (via The Verge) pointed out, the company now provides a “warning dialog” before the therapy starts, underscoring the company has no control over the feature.

“Apple devices may show emojis during video calls,” the alert reads. “Reactions, a new feature from Apple, is currently turned on by default on iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma, and may show emojis during video calls based on perceived gestures by video participants. This feature is not part of SimplePractice Telehealth and SimplePractice does not have control over these settings.”

Haughey said that a friend experienced this first-hand during a therapy session. “A friend was in an online therapy session, describing his trauma so the therapist asked if he was alright and he did a thumbs up and then HUGE FIREWORKS BEHIND HIS HEAD,” the user shared.

The new feature is enabled by default on the FaceTime of iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma devices. Some emojis that automatically appear when users show certain gestures include hearts, balloons, confetti, fireworks, and laser beams.

Thankfully, there is a way to disable them. To do it on macOS Sonoma, launch the FaceTime app and click the FaceTime icon in the menu. There, the Reactions option will appear, and you can deactivate it. In iOS 17, meanwhile, launch the app and swipe down on your top screen to open the Control Center. While the app is open, you’ll see a tile for “Video Effects” on your Control Center. Tap it and select Reactions to disable the emojis.


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