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New Phone App Features in iOS 6

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In this article, avid iPhone and iPad user Jason R. Rich, author of iPad and iPhone Tips and Tricks: 2nd Edition, offers advice on how to use the newest features incorporated into the iOS 6 edition of the Phone app, which make it easier to manage calls on the Apple iPhone. Apple’s iOS 6 comes preinstalled on all new iPhones being sold (including the iPhone 5). However, you can upgrade an older iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or iPhone 4S to run iOS 6 (for free) in order to utilize these new Phone app features.

Your iPhone is a smartphone that’s capable of handling a wide range of tasks. However, first and foremost, what sets it apart from the iPad tablets or the iPod touch devices that also operate using Apple’s iOS 6 operating system, is that the iPhone can make and receive calls using the cellular network offered by a wireless service provider, such as AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless, or Sprint PCS. Calls on the iPhone are made or received using the Phone app.

In conjunction with iOS 6, Apple has added a few handy new features to the Phone app that allow you to manage incoming calls. Let’s take a look at what these new features do and how to use them.

Answer Incoming Calls

If you’re using your iPhone (it’s turned on and one or more apps are running, or you’re looking at the Home screen), when an incoming call comes in, whatever screen you’re looking at will be replaced by the incoming call screen. To answer the incoming call, tap the green and white Answer button that’s displayed on the screen, press on the call answer button on your phone’s optional Bluetooth headset, or press on the call answer button that can be found on the cord of your Apple ear buds or EarPods that are connected to your phone.

When your iPhone is in sleep mode, it can still receive incoming calls. The phone will automatically wake up, and a slightly different incoming call screen will be displayed. This one has a Slide to Answer slider displayed near the bottom  of the screen. Swipe your finger from left to right on this slider to answer a call, press on the call answer button on your phone’s optional Bluetooth headset, or press on the call answer button that can be found on the cord of your Apple ear buds or EarPods that are connected to your phone.

Remember, if the iPhone is powered off, in Airplane Mode, or you have the Do Not Disturb feature turned on, all incoming calls will be sent directly to voicemail. To turn on the Do Not Disturb feature, launch Settings and tap on the virtual switch that’s associated with the Do Not Disturb feature. However, to adjust the customizable settings related to this feature, from the Settings main menu, tap on the Notifications option, and then tap on the Do Not Disturb option that’s displayed near the top of the screen.

From the Do Not Disturb menu screen, if you turn on the virtual switch associated with the Scheduled option, you can preselect specific times of the day (or night) when your iPhone will automatically go into Do Not Disturb mode. For example, you can set this feature to activate every night, from 11:00pm until 7:00am the following morning. Or, when the Scheduled feature is turned off, you can turn on the Do Not Disturb feature manually at anytime, such as when you’re in a meeting or attending a show, concert, or movie.

Also from the Do Not Disturb menu screen within Settings, if you tap on the Allow Calls From option, you can select specific groups of people whose calls will go through even if you have the Do Not Disturb feature turned on. For example, you can select Favorites, and your iPhone will ring (or vibrate, depending on how you have it set up) when a call from one of the people listed within the Phone app’s customizable Favorites list is received, even if the phone is in Do Not Disturb mode.

Also, by turning on the Repeat Calls option, if someone calls you while the Do Not Disturb feature is active, if they hang up and call your iPhone again from the same phone number within a three-minute period, the second call will ring on your iPhone (or the phone will vibrate, depending on how you have it set up).

If you turn on the Do Not Disturb feature, don’t forget to turn it off when you want to begin receiving your incoming calls again. You’ll know when the feature is turned on because a tiny moon-shaped icon is displayed to the left of the time, near the top-center of the iPhone’s display.

Ignore Incoming Calls and Send Them Directly to Voicemail

When you receive an incoming call, if you want to ignore the call and send it to voicemail immediately, you now have several options. You can allow the phone to ring and do nothing. After about 10 seconds, the call will be transferred to your iPhone’s voicemail.

Another option is to tap on the red and white Decline button that appears on the incoming call screen. Or you can also quickly press the Power (Sleep/Wake) button on the top of the iPhone twice, or press and hold the center button on your corded headset (such as the Apple ear buds or EarPods) for 2 seconds.

If you want to silence the ringer immediately but still have about 10 seconds to answer the incoming call, before it is transferred to voicemail, press the Power (Sleep/Wake) button on the top of the iPhone once, or press the Volume Up or Volume Down button on the side of the iPhone. The ringer will turn off immediately, but you still have the option to answer the incoming call.

Manage Your Calls When You Can’t Answer Them

Two additional new call management features have been introduced in conjunction with iOS 6 that you can access from either incoming call screen. In the past, when an incoming call was received, the Decline and Answer buttons or Slide to Answer slider was displayed on the screen, in conjunction with the call’s Caller ID information.

Now, to the right of the Answer button (or Slide to Answer slider), you’ll see a phone handset icon displayed on the incoming call screen. If you place your finger on this icon and flick upwards, two new command buttons are displayed on the incoming call screen. They’re labeled Reply with Message and Remind Me Later.

Reply with Message

Instead of just ignoring an incoming call and allowing it to go to voicemail, you can immediately send the caller a pre-written or custom text message by tapping on the Reply with Message button. Their call will still go to voicemail when you do this, so the caller can leave you a message.

Upon tapping on the Reply with Message button, five additional command buttons are displayed under the “Can’t talk right now...” heading. By default, they’re labeled:

  •   I’ll call you later.—Tap on this button to send the pre-written text message, “Can’t talk right now... I’ll call you later.”
  •   I’m on my way.—Tap on this button to send the pre-written text message, “Can’t talk right now... I’m on my way.”
  •   What’s up?—Tap on this button to send the pre-written text message, “Can’t talk right now... What’s up?”
  •   Custom—Tap on this button to compose and send a custom text message that’s pre-addressed to the caller.
  •   Cancel—Exit out of this menu without doing anything and allow the incoming call to be transferred to voicemail.

From within Settings, you can edit any of the three pre-written text messages. To do this, launch Settings, tap on the Phone option, and then tap on the Reply with Message option that’s displayed under the Calls heading. Tap on any of the three data fields displayed below the “Can’t talk right now” heading. Using the virtual keyboard, enter new, pre-written messages, one at a time, that you want to be displayed when you tap on the Reply with Message option as you receive new incoming calls in the future.

For example, you can change the “I’ll call you later” field to “I’m driving right now and can’t talk.” The second field can be changed to, “I am in a meeting right now. I will call you later,” and you can change the third field to say, “I’m on the other line right now. I will call you back.”

Remind Me Later

When an incoming call is received, if you place your finger on the phone handset icon and flick upwards, and then tap on the Remind Me Later option, four command buttons are displayed. Tapping on one of the first three buttons allows you to set a reminder for yourself to call the person back. The available options include:

  •   In 1 Hour—Set a reminder to call the person back in 1 hour.
  •   When I Leave—Using the iPhone’s Location Services option (assuming it’s turned on), your iPhone will alert you when you leave your current location and remind you to call the person back.
  •   When I Get Home—If you have your iPhone’s Location Services option turned on, and from within Settings, you’ve linked your own Contacts entry with the My Info option, the iPhone will remind you to call the person back when you arrive at your home address. To link your own Contacts entry with the My Info option, first create an entry for yourself within the Contacts app, and make sure you label your Home and Work address properly. Then, launch settings, and tap on the Mail, Contacts, Calendar option. Scroll down on the Mail, Contacts, Calendar menu screen until you see the Contacts heading, and then tap on the My Info option. When prompted, select your own entry from the Contacts database.
  •   Cancel—Exit out of the Remind Me Later option without setting a reminder for yourself.

Other Ways to Manage Incoming Calls

From the Phone menu screen within Settings, you also have the option to turn on or off the Call Forwarding feature. When turned on, you’ll be prompted to enter an alternate phone number, such as your home or work number, and all incoming calls to your iPhone will automatically be rerouted to that number, without your iPhone ringing. Turn off this feature to once again begin accepting calls on your iPhone.

Also from the Phone menu screen within Settings, you can turn on or off the Call Waiting feature. When turned on, if you’re on the phone and someone else calls you, you’ll hear a Call Waiting signal, and a new incoming call screen will be displayed. You can then place the original call on hold in order to answer the new incoming call, ignore the incoming call, or use any of the new incoming call management options.

However, when the Call Waiting feature is turned off, if you’re on the phone and someone else tries to call your iPhone, his or her call will be rerouted directly to voicemail.

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