It’s been a good five years since Apple came out with the iOS 7 operating system that allowed millions of iPhone owners to block annoying callers (and worse offenders) for the first time. Since then, the art of blocking hasn’t changed much, but there are a few new and improved tweaks available on iOS 11 to help weed out users’ unwanted incoming calls and messages. And if the iPhone’s built-in tools aren’t enough, there are some apps you can employ to do the blocking too.
The easiest way to block an individual is through their contact card. Open the contact info of someone you want to block and scroll to the bottom of the screen. There, you’ll find a button to block them. Tapping this button will prevent the person from being able to call you, send you text messages, or FaceTime you.
You can also block people by finding their number in your lists of recent calls or text messages, and accessing their contact card from there.
If you want to see a list of the numbers you’ve blocked, go to Phone options in the Settings menu, then click on Call Blocking & Identification. For a breakdown of how to do this in further detail, visit apple’s support page here.
Can the person you’ve blocked tell that you’ve blocked them? Not particularly! They might just think your phone is perpetually dead. A few years ago, when a person tried to call you from a blocked number, they would hear a few rings and then get a busy signal. Now, when a blocked user calls you, they are sent straight to your voicemail. They can leave you a voicemail and everything, only you won’t ever receive it. We’ve tested this on an iPhone running iOS 11, with blocked calls coming from other iPhones, an Android phone, and a landline.
Sometimes, blocking isn’t enough—especially with robocalls, which often rely on services that make it look like calls are coming from local phone numbers. There are some apps that can help to catch those unwanted calls from slipping through the holes. RoboKiller is one example. Sign up for a $3 per month subscription, and the app blocks over 100,000 robocalls and telemarketers—even the ones that try to fool you by spoofing their numbers. Your phone won’t ring when they call. TrueCaller is a similar app. It automatically identifies spam callers when your phone rings, showing you an alert so you know not to pick up the phone.
But back to blocking. Can blocked numbers text you? If you block a user and they try to send you a text, you won’t receive their message. When they text you, they’ll send it along without being notified of anything unusual. However, if they’re using iMessage, they won’t see a delivery receipt, so if they’re paying attention, they’ll notice their message hasn’t been “delivered”. If you get a lot of annoying but occasionally necessary automated messages (like the ones from car-hailing or delivery services), you can also choose to filter your messages by going into Settings > Messages and turn on Filter Unknown Senders. That way, you’ll only be notified of your personal texts, and you can sort through the automated or unsolicited ones later.
What about FaceTime? If someone you’ve blocked tries to FaceTime you, they’ll see what looks like a normal request to chat over FaceTime on their end, but it will never connect and it will ring for a couple minutes before notifying them that the person they are trying to reach (you) is unavailable. You won’t notice anything.
Unfortunately, blocking doesn’t solve everything. If the creep dedicates enough effort to contacting you, they might find a way to wiggle around your iPhone’s block function. One loophole is that there’s currently no way to block someone from iMessaging your Mac. So if you use your mac to receive iMessages, be weary of this. The iPhone block feature seems to be tied to the physical device, not your SIM, and not your Apple ID or iCloud account. This also means that if you block a contact with associated email information, the iPhone’s blocking mechanism won’t block their emails.
On the flipside: say you’ve blocked your mortal enemy, but for some reason still want to contact them. Go for it—iPhone blocking goes one way only. You can continue to call them and text them if you desire (maybe just proceed with caution). Note that, like the caller you blocked, you won’t be able to see if your message has been “delivered.”
If you have a change of heart, you can always unblock someone. Just go back to your phone settings where you’ll see the numbers you’ve blocked, slide the one you’ve forgiven to the left, and unblock them. Just don’t expect to suddenly receive any of the messages they sent while they were on your blocked list. Those missives are lost to the ether.
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