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Apple

Pro tip: Respond to calls with text messages in iOS

Receiving a call while you're unavailable or on another call can be distracting. However, with this iOS trick, you can let the calling party know you're busy.

iOS message

Have you ever been in the middle of a call, only to be interrupted by another call coming in? It can be annoying, especially as the other caller hears the "buzz" of the iPhone silent ringer. Sure, you could enable Do Not Disturb mode before making your first call, but why not do something a little more reactive instead? Let's take a look at how to set this up so that you can easily send a message with one tap to a caller to let them know if you're busy or on another call.

Setting up call messages

By default, iOS 8 comes with a few reply messages pre-populated into the software. However, if you want to customize the messages that are available to you, simply follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings | Phone | Respond with Text
  2. Type in your messages into the Respond With fields (Figure A)

Figure A

Figure A

Type in a message that will be displayed to incoming calls.

Note: You can type up to three different messages in this area. You'll be able to choose between these three messages with only a single tap when you receive a phone call.

The default messages are: "Sorry, I can't talk right now," "I'm on my way," and "Can I call you later?" However, you can make these messages say anything you want.

Replying with messages to callers

Whenever you receive a call, there are two buttons above the "Slide to answer" control (Figure B). One of those buttons is Remind Me (which we'll talk about in a minute), and the other button is Message.

Figure B

Figure B

There are two buttons above the "Slide to answer" control.

When you tap Message, you'll have access to the all of the messages that you typed into the Settings. However, if you didn't specify any custom messages, you can use the default ones that are included in iOS 8. If you still need to type something even more customized, you can tap the Custom button and send a full iMessage to the caller (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

You can tap the Custom button and send a full iMessage to the caller.

Whenever you tap any of the pre-populated messages, it's automatically sent to the caller without any other steps necessary.

Get reminders to call back

What if you get a call and, instead of sending a text message back to the caller, you want to get a reminder to call the person back after a set period of time? Well, iOS can handle this too.

Simply press the Reminder button (Figure D) when a call comes through, and then select a time. This will add a reminder to the Reminders application so that you'll receive a notification to call the person back after a set time / location.

You can select to have a reminder, "In 1 hour," "When I leave," and "When I get home."

Figure D

Figure D

Easily get a reminder to call someone back using the Reminder button.

What other tips do you recommend for managing incoming phone calls on iOS? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

About

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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