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.
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?