Software

How to install two of the best call blocking apps for iOS 10

Learn how to reduce noise by ensuring that spam calls do not interrupt your phone usage. Here's how to utilize iOS 10's call blocking features and a couple of third-party apps.

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Image: Hiya

Spam calls are not only annoying, but they also waste our time and interrupt quiet moments in our lives. Fortunately, with iOS 10, Apple has enabled developers to build apps that can block calls just like they did with iOS 9 and content blocking apps. These new call blocking apps can send known spam callers directly to voicemail without you ever getting interrupted.

The way Apple has engineered for these apps to work protects your privacy: The third-party apps will never be able to see what calls your device receives; instead, their databases are added to the iOS blacklist and when a call comes in, iOS checks against this database.

See how to set up two of the best call blocking apps available for iOS 10, and then learn about each app's pros and cons.

1: Hiya

Hiya was one of the first call blocking apps available on the App Store at the launch of iOS 10, and despite a few hiccups at the beginning, it has become the go-to free call blocking app for iOS 10.

The main advantages of Hiya are that you can see numbers that are blocked, and you can identify a number as a spammer by typing it into the Identify tab and finding out if the number has been reported by other users. In addition, Hiya's blacklist can be updated by visiting the Protect tab and selecting Update Now (Figure A).

Figure A

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Update your call protection blacklist in Hiya by visiting the Protect tab and selecting Update Now.

Hiya differentiates between scam and fraud calls and suspected spam callers. In the Options tab, you can select what you want to happen when those calls arrive—you can either select Alert or Block (send to voicemail) (Figure B).

Figure B

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Selecting Alert will allow the call to go through, but it will label the call as such in the incoming call screen. The Block option will make the calls go to voicemail instead.

Pros: It's free. Plus, Hiya offers a substantial blacklist, frequent updates, the ability to identify calls by typing them manually in the app, and the ability to see the blacklist.

Cons: Hiya wants access to contacts stored on iOS, but it doesn't offer the ability to whitelist certain callers.

Hiya is available on the App Store for free.

SEE: Research: Defenses, response plans, and greatest concerns about cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (Tech Pro Research)

2: Nomorobo - Robocall Blocking

Nomorobo - Robocall Blocking gets regular updates to its blacklists and the app itself; in fact, the developers claim that the paid subscription model adds more than 1,000 numbers to its blacklists every day.

You can test the service to ensure it's set up properly on your device by opening the app, tapping Status, and then tapping Send Me A Test Robocall (Figure C). In addition, you can choose whether you want to send a blocked number to voicemail, or just have iOS identify it on the incoming call screen.

Figure C

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On Nomorobo's status screen, you can send a test call, change what you want incoming calls to do, and update the blacklist.

Pros: Nomorobo has great features, including the ability to report numbers and mark them as allowed or blocked (most apps only let you mark a number as blocked—you cannot mark a number as allowed). You can use the share sheet in the phone app to share a received number or contact with Nomorobo to have it blocked. Plus, you can test the setup with a call.

Cons: Nomorobo doesn't show you a list of numbers that you're currently allowing or blocking. Also, sometimes it takes a while to show up in the Call Blocking & Identification screen to enable the app.

Nomorobo is available on the App Store with a free 1-month trial. After that you pay $1.99 per month, or $19.99 per year to keep the service.

Enabling call blocking apps in iOS 10

To enable a call blocking app—whether it is Nomorobo, Hiya, or another third-party app—the steps are the same.

  1. Open the iOS Settings app.
  2. Select the Phone option.
  3. Select Call Blocking & Identification.
  4. Flip the ON switch beside the app you wish to enable (Figure D).

Figure D

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Call blocking apps will appear at the top of the list, where you can enable or disable them. Below that list you'll see any calls that you are blocking with the built-in iOS call blocking utility.

With the app enabled, whenever you receive a call, iOS will check its internal database as well as the databases provided by these apps to determine whether to allow the call.

Also see

About Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...

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