Did You Know You Can Save and Share Voicemail Files from Your iPhone?

For many of us, voicemail replaced answering machines, so we don’t think of voicemail messages as being something we can save or share. But on the iPhone, every voicemail message is just an audio file. If you want to retain a message for posterity or share one with a friend or colleague, you can do that easily. While viewing a voicemail message, tap the share icon to bring up an activity sheet. In it, you can save the file to any app that can handle audio files, or share the file with AirDrop, Messages, Mail, or the like.

(Featured image by Travis Zimmerman from Pixabay)

The Secret Trick That Lets You Paste Phone Numbers into the Phone App

Most iOS apps and many Web sites make phone numbers “hot” so you can tap them to call. But it’s not uncommon to run across a number that’s formatted oddly or broken across a line of text such that it can’t be recognized. Just because iOS can’t recognize it doesn’t mean you have to memorize the number temporarily or flip back and forth to the Phone app to type it in it. Here’s a workaround. Double-tap the start of the phone number to select it, and then drag the rightmost blue handle to extend the selection to the entire number. Tap Copy in the popover that appears to copy it. Then switch to the Phone app, tap Keypad at the bottom, and then tap in the blank white area at the top where typed numbers would appear. When a Paste button appears, tap it, and if the Phone app recognizes the number correctly, tap the green Call button to place the call.

(Featured image by Markus Spiske temporausch.com from Pexels)

iOS 12’s Emergency Bypass Forces Calls & Texts Through No Matter What

There’s little worse than missing an important call or text because your iPhone was in Do Not Disturb mode or because the Mute switch was engaged. If there are certain people—a spouse, parent, or child—whose calls and texts you always want to break through the cone of silence, iOS has a solution: Emergency Bypass. When enabled for a particular contact’s ringtone or text tone, Emergency Bypass ensures the sound and vibration will happen regardless of Do Not Disturb or the Mute switch position. To set up Emergency Bypass, edit the person’s contact card in the Phone or Contacts app, tap Ringtone, and enable Emergency Bypass. You can turn on Emergency Bypass separately for calls in the Ringtone settings and for texts in the Text Tone settings. And remember, you can always set someone’s tone to None and enable a vibration instead to ensure Emergency Bypass doesn’t allow a call to interrupt a movie, play, or concert.

Block Telemarketing Calls Automatically on Your iPhone

Did you know that you can block telemarketing calls automatically on your iPhone? Junk calls are one of the great annoyances of the modern world. You’re minding your own business when your iPhone vibrates in your pocket. You pull it out, curious as to who’s calling, but don’t recognize the number. You may notice that it’s in the same exchange as your phone number, suggesting that it’s a neighbor. But no. When you answer, it’s “Heather,” a pre-recorded voice wanting to sign you up for a resort vacation, give your business a loan, or help with your credit card debt. Angered by the intrusion, you tap the red hangup button, wishing you had an old-style telephone receiver to slam down.

There’s no way to retaliate against these scum-sucking bottom feeders, and the best option is to hang up immediately. For quite a few versions of iOS, you’ve been able to block a caller manually—just tap the i button next to the call in the Recents screen in the Phone app, scroll to the bottom, and tap Block This Caller. But that’s seldom worth doing since telemarketers often spoof the numbers they call from, so it’s unlikely you’d get a second call from the same number.

Instead, we recommend taking advantage of a feature Apple introduced in iOS 10 that enables apps to block calls for you. Quite a few of these apps have appeared, with some of the best reviewed being Hiya, Mr. Number, RoboKiller, and Truecaller. Hiya and Mr. Number are both free and from the same company—Mr. Number is a stripped-down version of Hiya—whereas RoboKiller and Truecaller require an in-app purchase for a monthly membership.

In general, these apps work by receiving caller ID information from iOS and comparing it against both your local contacts (to identify good calls) and a constantly updated database of numbers used by telemarketers (bad calls). Calls from your contacts ring through normally, as do calls from phone numbers not in either of those sets. That’s key, since your doctor might call back from a secondary number, or your kid’s new teacher might call to talk about an upcoming snack day. But if you receive a call from a number known to be used by a telemarketer, the app can either identify it on the incoming call screen or block it automatically, sending it to voicemail.

To enable one of these apps, after you download it from the App Store, go to Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification and enable its switch. You’ll probably also have to do some setup in the app itself, providing your phone number, perhaps creating an account, and determining what should happen with different calls (Mr. Number is shown below, right).

With Hiya and Mr. Number, you can copy a number from the Phone app’s Recents screen (tap the i button for a call, and then press the number to access a Copy button) and then look it up to learn more and see comments other users have made. And if you get a telemarketing call from a number that the app doesn’t recognize, you can submit it to protect others.

RoboKiller claims that it wastes the telemarketers’ time by playing pre-recorded “Answer Bots” conversations to keep them on the line, preventing them from calling more people.

Details vary by app, but the only real downside to using one of these apps is that it may ask for information about you or your contacts to improve its services. If that feels intrusive, investigate one of the apps that requires a membership, like RoboKiller, to see if it better answers your concerns.

In the end, it comes down to how many telemarketing calls you receive each day, week, or month. If you’re lucky and get only one or two per month, it’s probably not worth messing with a call blocking app—maybe just send unidentified (and unexpected) calls to voicemail. But if you’re interrupted by multiple junk calls per day or week, give one of these apps a try and let it reduce the onslaught.

7 Great New Features in watchOS 4

With watchOS 4 now arriving on Apple Watch users’ wrists, it’s time to make sure you aren’t missing out on any of the important features—and to share a few tips for how to use them. watchOS 4 works on all Apple Watch models, even the original Apple Watch. It does require iOS 11, so if you’ve been using your Apple Watch with an iPhone 5 or 5c, you’ll need to stick with watchOS 3 until you get a new iPhone.

#1: Dock Scrolls Vertically instead of Horizontally

Press the side button to see the Dock, and you’ll notice that it now scrolls vertically—this makes sense since one of the ways to scroll it is by turning the digital crown. You can now arrange Dock items (using the Watch app on your iPhone) based on either your favorites or which Dock items were used most recently.

#2: Useful and Fun Watch Faces

The new Siri watch face doesn’t add new speech capabilities, but it does show timely information, pulling in personal details and suggestions from apps such as Calendar, Reminders, and Photos. It also shows Now Playing controls when you’re playing audio on your iPhone, along with Apple News headlines and stock tickers. We liked it more after customizing its Data Sources in the iOS Watch app.

When you want something whimsical on your wrist, there’s now a Toy Story face. Or, try the trippy new Kaleidoscope face that changes slowly as time goes by—you can speed it up by turning the digital crown.

#3: App List Supplements Icon Cloud

The App screen’s icon cloud looks impressive, but it can be challenging to locate and tap a specific app. We’re appreciating the new List view, accessed by force-pressing the App screen, which displays apps alphabetically.

#4: Flashlight on Your Wrist

Swipe up to find and tap the new Flashlight button in Control Center, which turns the screen bright white. Swipe left to access a flashing option, designed to make you more visible at night while walking or running. Press the side button or digital crown to turn the flashlight off.

#5: More Fitness Encouragement and Options

The Activity app is now more chatty and will make suggestions in the morning to inspire you. It will also remind you at night if you are close to closing a ring.

Apple gave the Workout app some attention, too. Starting a workout is easier than before: it now requires only one tap, Do Not Disturb turns on automatically, and your default playlist can even start playing. With the workout underway, you can now switch easily to a different workout type (swipe right and tap the + button), and see a multi-workout analysis at the end of the entire session.

Swimmers using an Apple Watch Series 2 or 3 can now track sets and rests, pace for each set, and distance for each stroke type. Apple also has added a High Intensity Interval Training workout type.

Finally, your Apple Watch can connect with some gym equipment, like ellipticals and indoor bikes, allowing it and the machine to share data. Look for an NFC label on your machine, and tap it with your watch.

#6: Multiple Playlists On the Go

The Apple Watch is great for playing tunes to AirPods while you work out, but with watchOS 3 you were limited to just one playlist. With watchOS 4, you can sync multiple playlists and albums via the Music settings in the iOS Watch app. Plus, for Apple Music subscribers, your automatically generated favorites mixes can sync automatically.

#7: More App Enhancements: Phone, Timer, and Camera

Other apps also receive improvements in watchOS 4. You can dial phone numbers manually with a new keypad in the Phone app. Timer now has a Repeat button, so you can repeat a timer with a single tap. And the Camera app offers some new remote options, including support for starting and stopping videos.

All-in-all, watchOS 4 is a solid upgrade, and the changes will make your Apple Watch both more useful and easier to use.

 

Did You Know the iPhone Has a Button for Ignoring Telemarketers?

Telemarketers are a scourge on society, but if you’re getting too many telemarketing calls, you can at least reduce how much time you spend on them. When a call comes in, you can always tap the red Decline button, but it’s even faster to press the Sleep/Wake button on the side (iPhone 6 or 7) or top (iPhone SE, plus the iPhone 5 and earlier). Pressing it once just silences the ringing on your end; press it twice to decline the call and send it directly to voicemail.