Block Calls On Your iPhone Using Silence


POSTED ON MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2012 AT 5:32 PM

Are you looking for a way to block calls on your iPhone? We were looking into this just days after we finally managed to find ourselves one of the last Apple iPhone 4S models for sale here in North Vancouver in December of 2011 (the closer you get to Christmas — the harder they are to find). Once activated, we were bombarded with all sorts of telemarketing calls from our very own wireless provider if you can believe that. And it's still happening*.

But never mind our wireless provider. We get this toll-free number harassment every day from all over the world. 1-800 numbers. 1-866 numbers. 1-877 numbers. 1-888 numbers. You name it, we get it. And no doubt — you probably do, too. Annoying? No four-letter words allowed here. Wouldn't it be great if you could simply tell Siri to "ignore telemarketers."

We're not talking about an iPhone app here. This is just a simple, common sense technique for silencing the constant barrage of unsolicited calls which senselessly (and ruthlessly) make your mobile phone number ring repeatedly, day after day. Rest assured — the people responsible for these nuisance calls are probably not singling you out by any means. They're more than likely just using an auto-dialer to drive you (and everybody else) insane. We'll try to help you to fix that problem in a moment.

After playing around with our new smartphone for days on end, we'll have to admit that we've got the iOS "bug" now and MW Web Design has already made plans to start developing our very first app for the iPhone. Our app has nothing to do with blocking calls — we'll tell you more about it in a future article (one little hint — it has something to do with music). I have a lot of hardcore programming experience which I put on hold back in 2002 — the time has finally come to get Xcode out and get back into writing code once again (I can see those long, late nights coming already).

From a programming standpoint, nobody seems to have solved the challenge of building a reliable app to handle blocked calls on the iPhone just yet. Although there are a few apps available on the App Store which claim to do this, unfortunately, they don't appear to function very well. Some are very limited in terms of options. If we find a call blocker app which really does the trick, we'll post an update for you right here on this page. Heck — we'll be more than happy to buy it, install it and use it, too!

The technique outlined in this article is a totally free solution and requires no app at all. So few people realize that you can do this — yet it's so simple to do. All you need to do is download the free ringtone below and install it on your iPhone. The ringtone is in m4r format (compatible with iTunes for Mac and Windows). You can also download the free "Phone Spam" image below and assign it to unwanted callers in your Contact List:

After you've installed the ringtone on your mobile device, the next time you receive an unwanted call, simply add the caller to your Contact List. Then assign the "Silence" ringtone to the caller who was responsible for the unsolicited call (if you're still learning how to work with contacts, photos and ringtones, visit Apple's iPhone Support page for help):

This silent ringtone is 3.125 seconds long (the exact same duration as the default "Marimba" ringtone on the iPhone). Pure silence. Nothing. Nada. You won't hear your phone ring when the telemarketer calls you again but you'll still see the call show up on your phone. The telemarketer will just hear your phone ring and ring on their end until it eventually goes to voicemail. A much better option than being rudely interrupted by a telemarketer trying to sell you a Mexican Holiday for just twenty-five bucks while you're in the middle of having lunch with that girl you've been dying to go out on a date with for months on end.

If you wish, click on the add photo box in your Contact List while in Edit mode and choose the "Phone Spam" image to assign it to the telemarketing number you just entered:

After you've added the photo, you'll see this image appear on your screen whenever the same spammer calls you again. But you still won't hear your phone ring:

What we're basically doing here is silencing or call screening unwanted calls. But hey — we're still blocking them so that they don't "bug" us and we'll gladly take anything we can get right now in order to rid ourselves of these annoying telephone spammers. There's one catch to this, however. Voicemail. The majority of telemarketing firms aren't allowed to leave voicemail messages but bad telemarketers often do. There's nothing you can do about this other than reporting them to the authorities. Note that there are a handful of exceptions — some organizations are allowed to call you repeatedly whether you like it or not.

And there's one other caveat — the task of solving the problem of how to screen out calls which display no Caller ID at all (the ones which read "Unknown Name", "Unknown Caller" or "Unknown Number"). Can it be done? Bad news. You can't do it using the silent ringtone trick. What you can do, however, is contact your wireless provider and ask them if they have any means of preventing anonymous calls from being routed to your wireless number. I don't think it'll be long before wireless carriers offer some form of call screen service. Perhaps some of them already do (I'm going to look into this over the next few weeks as I do know that many US carriers already offer call blocking).

While we're on the anonymous topic, one telephone number you might wish to "silence" on your mobile phone is 310-8682 (no area code). Lots of spam calls originate from this number up here in our neck of the woods. You might also want to grab a list of your wireless provider's telemarketing numbers and get a head start by adding them to your Contact List (exactly as we did). Assign the "Silence" ringtone to every single one of them. You can find these numbers by doing a search on the Internet.

Last but not least, make sure you're on the National Do Not Call List. Take some time out to register your number(s) if you haven't already done so. If the calls become too overwhelming (as in the case of our own wireless provider), you can file a complaint with the CRTC here:

The above files are completely free to use at your own leisure with no attribution necessary. Enjoy your smartphone and here's hoping that this article brings you a little more peace and quiet with fewer twenty-five dollar Mexican Holiday offers, free dishwashers and major discounts on vitamins which are guaranteed to help you shed thirty pounds overnight.

On a final note, it's still hard to believe that Steve Jobs introduced the very first iPhone just 5 years ago on January 9th, 2007. Little do we realize how far it's come in such a short period of time. And we can only imagine how far it's going to go in the years ahead.

Thanks Steve.

* Wanna hear something real ironic? While writing this article, our wireless provider called me three times from three different toll-free numbers. Since I already had their numbers in my Contact List, they got the sound of "Silence" each time.

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