iOS 7 preview: Phone, FaceTime, and Messages blocking promises to put an end to annoying contacts

iOS 7 preview: Phone, FaceTime, and Messages blocking

With iOS 7, Apple is adding the ability to block people from reaching - especially disturbing or otherwise harassing - you via the phone, FaceTime, and Messages. One of the downsides of the constant connectivity we enjoy on the iPhone is constant availability, and while it's annoying when people we know expect us to respond 2/47, it's even more annoying when wrong numbers or malicious people can reach us all day, every day.

Apple hasn't mentioned the new blocking feature on their website yet, but Apple senior vice-president of software, Craig Federighi emphasized it at the end of his iOS 7 segment at WWDC 2013:

For those of you who have people who just won't let go, phone, FaceTime, and Messages blocking.

iOS 7 preview: Phone, FaceTime, and Messages blocking

Last year, with iOS 6, Apple added a Do Not Disturb feature to prevent iPhones, iPads, and iPods from buzzing, beeping, and otherwise going off when we were trying to sleep, rest, or otherwise enjoy some gadget-free time. However, it was a general and temporal system, so you could turn everything off for a certain period, not specific people persistently, or forever. Blocking seems to handle that second, incredibly important part.

There's been no explanation of how blocking works yet, of whether it blocks SMS/MMS as well as iMessages, what if any call-blocking restrictions might be in place, if there's any carrier involvement or if it's purely iOS-side software doing the interception, or whether or not you can block contacts selectively on each of those services, or if blocking is an all or nothing thing. That'll likely come this fall when Apple rolls out their more elaborate feature guides.

However, as someone who's had FAX machines dial my number over and over again, repeated wrong numbers, and even enjoyed carrier telemarketers-gone-wild calling to pitch me dozens and dozens of times a week, I'm really looking forward to dropping the block hammer if and when needed.

Blocking is a long time coming to iOS - in a perfect world it should have come sooner - but it'll be great to have when it finally ships.

Phone, FaceTime, and Message blocking will arrive as part of iOS 7 this fall. Check out the resources below for more, and let me know - is it something you've been waiting for, how do you want it to work, and how do you envision using it?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iOS 7 preview: Phone, FaceTime, and Messages blocking promises to put an end to annoying contacts


Text messages are one of the areas that I don't like color scheme. I have no problem with the way things are handled, but the bright white background, along with bright green bubbles and white text, are a bit too bright for me. Hopefully we will be able to mute this some in the finished product.

It'll be so nice! I've asked the carrier to block fax machines that called hour after hour, day after day, and they've refused. Hopefully this will work!

I have phone number blocking through Google Voice, which my iPhone 4S is equipped with, via Sprint. That takes care of SMS and Phone calls, but that doesn't cover iMessage or Facetime. A blocking feature in iOS would definitely be welcome.

Do not Disturb and Contact Blocking are nice, but I really want to turn my iPhone into a dumb phone sometimes - just a phone, contacts and *maybe* messages.

It's pretty easy to dumbify an iphone in setting- general - restrictions. Which can be a good idea with kids phones...

Tested the blocking features with a friend. If the blocked number phones you, the phone rings once and then goes to voice mail. The caller has the ability to leave a message. This allows them to assume they've left a message that you are not responding to, which in itself can cause other issues with said blocked caller. A blocked number should get a "number you have dialed is not in service" error. The person being called gets a "Blocked Message" notification. Also, the blocked number must be in your contacts list. Finally, caller will not get text/iMessage from blocked number, HOWEVER, the sender does see a "Delivered" status in iMessage. They should not get any notification/status of sent messages. I'd say they still need to work on some of these "nuances".

@TheTurch, i'm not sure they can do this "number dialed is not in service" message like the operators do. And for me it's better that the blocked number actually thinks that you are receiving the message or call but simply ignoring it. If i were a stalker and trying to reach someone, after seeing the "you are blocked" message i will try to reach the lad via some other number. But with this i will actually think that the blocker simply ignoring me. I think it's better.

You can block a number even it's not in your contact list by clicking the i button in recent calls.

the advertisement messages i still couldn't block, i guess the same company is sending me the messages with different numbers. I've added them to my contact list, let's see if it will work.

This is one of those things that drives me nuts about iOS, and it's sad they are only now giving us a half-baked solution. Android has several apps that allow to you create a blacklist.. calls never show up, get sent straight to VM, and texts get sent to a special folder you can check on later in case you accidentally miss something. They never show up to bother you at all unless you make the effort to check them. The fact that this still isn't possible in iOS by the 7th version (without a jailbreak app) is crazy. Maybe iOS 8.