The Best iOS 13 Feature and the Worst iOS UI

Silence Unknown Callers

Out of all the new iOS 13 features I think my favorite is 'Silence Unknown Callers', which sends all phone calls that are not contacts in your phone to voicemail, but more importantly, they don't ring. It smartly won't block a recent number you called, like if you called a doctor's office and they are calling you back. It also says it will not block a number from siri suggestions though I have not seen either of these in practice.

To find this awesome new feature go to 'Settings', scroll down to 'Phone' and towards the bottom of the phone section is 'Silence Unknown Callers'.

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I don't use my phone to call people that much, mostly my wife, parents, or brother. Any other important phone calls I get should leave a message, like if my car is in for service or a doctors office calls for an appointment reminder. Some weeks the majority of the calls I receive are from unknown numbers that either don't leave messages or leave an obvious spam message so I assume they are all spam.

Now the only calls that ring my phone are my family (or other contacts but really, who the hell makes phone calls to friends anymore? I usually text and then ignore the texts.) All other calls are delivered silently as just a banner or lock screen notification. Sometimes they leave a voicemail but 9 times out 10 it is some spam message about business solutions or something.

I usually have my phone switched to silent so if it does ring it doesn't disturb my patients and I can quickly check on the Apple Watch who it is in a way that doesn't interfere with patient care. (Sometimes I have to check later on my watch, because even glancing down at the watch can be disruptive to a conversation with a patient). But if I forget and have the sound on it usually doesn't ring anymore because no one gets actual phone calls that matter.

Silence Unknown Callers may be a relatively drastic solution, but it allows me to feel in control of my phone again so I think it is worth the minimal cost of my doctor having to leave a message.

Now let's talk about blocking those annoying numbers

It is pretty easy to block a number from the recent calls screen, just press the 'i' icon and then click 'block caller'. But, if you get spam texts then it is so many steps and so annoying to block them. You have to open the text (which should not happen), click on the number/empty person icon and then click the info button that appears. Then you have to click on the number again and then you can finally block the caller. There should be an immediate swipe option at the top level to mark as spam and block the number.

The new feature called Filter Unknown Senders which separates contacts and SMS with unknown senders in iMessage is a good idea. To turn the feature on go to ‘Settings’, tap ‘Messages’ and scroll all the way to the bottom and turn on ‘Filter Unknown Senders’.

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The problem for me is all spam messages I get are from SMS, not iMessage so it does not help me. I'm sure there are people out there that are famous and separating their contacts from unknown senders is a good idea, but for spam this does not work as well as I would like. I wish all unknown numbers whether SMS or iMessage would be in one section separate from anyone I already have as a contact. The only unknown sender with iMessage I've gotten was from my friend living in Uganda who got a different number back in the US so wasn't in my contacts list and I didn't see the message for a while.

I'm not going to get into all the various robocall blockers out there because I have not tried them so can't speak to how well they work. Though, hearing various Apple oriented podcasts talk about them they aren't always that great and stuff still sneaks through.

The worst UI experience on iOS of all time

The worst UI experience on apple is a phone call taking over your entire screen and not allowing you to do anything else unless you end the call. Phone calls are now such a minor part of the smartphone experience, yet they remain the only thing that can completely take over the phone UI.

One example of this inconvenience is that I use my phone all the time with patients for a variety of things including anatomy apps. If a phone call pops up it takes over the whole screen and I have to answer it, send it to voicemail, or wait it out. The phone call takes over that entire screen and ruins the UI of whatever you were doing before .

iPhones are basically not phones anymore, they are fully fleged computers in your pocket. The phone is not the most important part and shouldn't be treated like it is.

That might have gotten a bit ranty, but that is probably one of my biggest pet peeves.