Would you want the Phone app on your iPad?

Would you want the Phone app on your iPad?

With all the talk of a large screen iPhone 6 this year, and potentially more in the years to follow, it's got me wondering — how big is too big? One of the arguments for a big screen iPhone is that it would better serve people who need a phone but want only one primary computing device. A 4.3- to 5-inch iPhone could satisfy them, but what about a 7.9-inch Retina iPad mini with Phone.app installed as well?

Unlike Samsung and some other manufacturers who include phone apps on their tablets, Apple currently keeps Phone functionality — among other things — off the iPad. Nevertheless, thanks to third-party apps, I've used the iPad mini as a pseudo-phone several times.

While not ideal, if phone functionality wasn't anywhere near the top of my list, the bigger screen size might just make up for the awkwardness. Thanks to Bluetooth and headsets, it's not as if you'd have to hold it to your head like an 80s-style boom box. You'd just have to tap the Phone app and make a call with all the convenience of an iPhone and all the advantages of the bigger screen.

FaceTime audio makes it possible, so do apps like Skype or even Google Hangouts. But Phone.app is the real deal. The same thing the iPhone has, that any phone has.

The question is — would an iPad with Phone.app be something you'd want?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Would you want the Phone app on your iPad?

59 Comments

forget the iPad, i want the phone app on my macbook. why do i need to pull out my phone to see who's calling when I'm on my macbook

Because your phone is a phone.

However, it would be convenient to see who's calling on OS X. I'm pretty sure that's coming in OS X 10.10. Mavericks was going to have a feature that pushes your mobile device notifications to your Mac and makes sure you only see any notification once, but it didn't make it in. Unless they have completely scrapped the idea, it might show up later.

Try the app "Connect" in the Mac App Store. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and lets you make and take calls through the Mac. Its on sale for $.99 right now.

I love the fact thank I can do most things with only one hand - I can send emails, texts and answering the phone - i hate all these stupid huge phones - it's a phone why do you need it so big - it's rediculous - I vote for no bigger!!

Even on my iPhone 5s most of the calls I make are via the included ear bud headphones and siri. I look forward to getting a decent bluetooth headset. I look more forward to when Apple has a decent (not dorky) Google Glass style interface that even further integrates hands-free calling into a decent tablet device.

Not if it eliminated the cheaper ipad data plans. The thing is, why would you NOT want this? It's a feature. Better to have than not.

Agreed. I don't feel my iPad Air is at a loss without it- it's still an amazing device. But if they added this feature, why would you Not want it? Give me all the features I can get! I would use my iPhone head phones and surf the web, use apps, etc while on the phone.

Yes, I use Talkatone on my ipad all the time. Use more facetime on my ipad and Mac than my cheap cell phone.

No. Apple should keep the phone functionality on the phone. Experiences should be differentiated. This is more like what Samsung or Microsoft would do.

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I think it would be convenient at times. Just use my BlueTooth headset.
But I'd want the ability to have my same cellular number appear on both devices, and the ability to turn off the Phone.app on the iPad at whenever I want to. This would require a simple On/Off "switch" that is easily and quickly accessible. This way would give users the option to use the feature or turn it off.

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Yes! So I can use headphones with it. Obviously not hold a tablet to my head, as that's the ultimate douche bag move.

I don't want to carry a device a big as an iPad mini with me at all times and I do not want multiple devices. I want a device EXACTLY the size of Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

No, but I do wish I could sync up my phone with my iPad (I don't have a cellular enabled iPad) and I could access my text messages from it. It's great with iMessages but I wish that all my texts could be pushed. Often I'm reading or doing something else on my iPad, and get a text - if it's an iMessage I love being able to just read and/or respond on the device that I am on instead of having to carry two devices around the house with me if I am hunkering down somewhere to use my iPad.

Interesting that this functionality isn't regarded to when Apple competitors promote unified-experience across devices. Why some makers insist Excel workflows on a mobile phone are something consumers need while telephony on a tablet or desktop seems ridiculous, is insane.

Microsoft is trying to leverage its desktop software in the mobile space. They think Office is a halo product that can drive sales of their mobile devices.

Think again, Redmond. The public thinks that Office is a hellhole product that they're forced to use at work. Because their IT department says so.

Yeah, a hellhole product that helped to keep the Mac alive in 1997 and that to this day is one of the top sellers on the Apple desktop platform.

There's one thing that Apple could do to make screen size irrelevant with a phone.
They could ship Bluetooth earbuds with iPhone / iPad / iWatch.
No need to lift the device up to your ear to make calls.

In fact, I think a Bluetooth earbud solution would be essential to iWatch if it is to act as an iPod-replacement. I've hiked with an iPod nano on a wrist strap, and catching the earbud cord on branches was extremely painful. There's nothing quite like having both earbuds instantly ripped out of your ears. (And they were the old tight-fitting Apple in-ear headphones.)

Problem solved. I got the low-end JayBird Bluetooth earbuds. I figure they'll last until Apple's Bluetooth earbuds are released.

Having earbuds ripped out of your ears is the worst! I agree that Bluetooth earbuds would be an ideal pairing with iWatch, assuming they'd be conducive to the functionality iWatch offers. Otherwise, I don't see Apple ever talking attention away from their other products just to make Apple-branded Bluetooth earbuds.

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I'd like to see the eventually come to the iPad. Even the BlackBerry Playbook at the least has Caller ID shown on screen when you get a call on your BlackBerry.

An iPad with the Phone.app would be nice provided you can use the same phone number as your iPhone.

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I use a cellular iPad mini as my one and only mobile phone. I would be interested in having the Apple Phone App only if it were adjusted to work with a digital-only contract. Expanding the capability of FaceTime might do the job. I currently spend $15 month for all the phone calls I need to make and receive, plus all the data I need between Wi-Fi sessions. If Apple can't (won't) provide that kind of phone, perhaps they would allow third-party phone apps to integrate with the Contacts app.

Agreed. Like I said in my comment down the line it doesn't have to replace the phone, it just needs to work as a phone when I don't have my phone on me.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Too many developers (apple included) don't understand that many folks would like to just carry the iPad and don't actually need a phone at all (except for the fact that many carriers force you to have one).

The one phone call a month I get works just as well on speaker phone thanks.

Your original article about using your iPad mini as a phone when you were in SF a year back inspired me to get rid of my cellphone and use the mini as my only phone. That being said, YES YES YES.

Yes. Although I have an iphone I would use an iPhone app on the ipad but only with headphones. I think those samsung users with those large phones next to their ear look insanely dumb. The weird thing is they think they look cool and suave.

Unless I could use the phone and tablet interchangably on the same phone number, meh. It would be convienient to be able to use the iPad as a phone, but while I have my iPad with me a lot, it's not with me all the time because of size. It's too big to fit on a belt clip, too big to fit in a pocket, I need a bag of some kind to carry it unless I want to have it always in my hand.

Then, to use it as a phone, as mentioned a headset would pretty much be required and who, other than dorks, wants to have a headset on all the time? The phone can be brought up to the face and then, if the call is going to last a while, a headset can be plugged in or connected.

For this idea to work, the phone and tablet need to be a transformer type device like the Asus PadFone (http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/21/asus-padfone-infinity-review/).

This is true. I'm willing to bet that carriers would somehow get involved and we would ennd up with two different numbers on the devices.

Some carriers, like mine, send SMS (I guess to let you know how much data you have used and the balance). All I can do everyday is just dismiss these potentially useful messages. "You have a text message, but unfortunately you won't be able to read it!". So why bother telling me?!

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I like above comments to at least have my Mac show me when someone is calling my iPhone. Harmony between devices such as this would be pretty convenient.

As for the iPad, I guess the feature itself would be cool, but I don't think I'd ever use it. I place it up there with people taking photos with their iPads, at least at inopportune areas (i.e. music concerts.. like really?) It would be interesting to see implemented though.

I was just sitting in the lr on my ipad but had to walk to get my phone to call Dh. I was reading the comments and realized I'd have to activate my cellular. ( I was given this device with cell cap) I'm looking to lower my bill! It was nice to FT audio w/ Mama when my phone died. I guess if only Dh kept his Skype up we could talk if need be. He doesn't even use a msging service! It's such a hassle. He's such an Apple hater!

I'd like a larger phone please. I went from an iPhone 4 to a GS3 and then to a 5 after my GS3 started having issues that Sprint could not resolve. I loved the size, worked well for what I do and I had no problem dropping it in my pockets.

The "phablets" are popular because they work for people. They provide a solution for those of us that don't want to carry a phone and a tablet around, not to mention a laptop. Do I need a Note 3 sized iPhone, not necessarily, but a GS4 sized one would work well for me.

Phone & Tablet-two different markets.
Put them together=phablet... Not a tablet. Other words, keep the tablet a tablet and let the phone be a phone! I actually believe Apple has no plans of doing this because Apple is a company of innovativeness and practicality (and let's not forget beauty in there devices!) and they know where to draw a line OR when to make a new one! To wrap it up, Apple knows what there doing!

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This is something I would love to have but don't see happening. Mainly have my bluetooth headphones in with my phone in my bag. My pebble acts as the caller ID, Siri responds to my text messages. If the mini had the phone app and SMS support, it would be my dream setup. iPad mini "unlocked". Pop in my sim when I'm at work/ put the sim back in my phone when I'm taking the wife out and just need a phone.

Why not! But honestly, I don't need Phone.app not very often. FaceTime Audio, BBM Voice-Calling, Hangouts and Skype took its place in my every-day life.

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It's not a necessity, but I'd rather have the option and not need it, than need it and not have it. It's not a feature I'm in a rush for, but I would in no way turn my nose at.

I would not mind the addition until it gives me a good reason to use my ipad with more ease. As reviewed in blogs I already use good set of apps which are my favorite & good enough to spend useful & fun time with my iPad.

I'd gladly take that feature. Having a phone app on my iPad does not mean I would carry it around with me everywhere I go - it just means that when my iPad is in front of me I don't have to go to the next room to pick up my iPhone. Likewise, when I am out I still have my perfectly manageable iPhone at my side. It is the same reason I use iMessage and Hangouts on both.

I can't vote because I feel I can't accurately express my fee likes via the choices given.
No. I personally would not use a phone app on my iPad, however I do see potential for others.
It could be a super easy fix for Apple as iPads have a cellular configuration - just add the app & the "larger iPhone" exists. No need for a new product line.
Half the time I see people communication through their iPhones "reality-show" style anyways. [Doofenshmirtzes]

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I want it. I'm baffled by those who don't just say they don't want it, but that no one should have it - because "experiences should be differentiated" or because they don't want to HAVE to use their iPads as phones.

I sure hope Apple is thinking about this more intelligently than some of the above.

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Yea, why not? We already load Skype on our iPads so team members can call when they are away from their desks, so it wouldn't hurt to have the phone app as well. Then again, if it means AT&T is going to tack on another fee, I might reconsider...

I second those commentors who use Talkatone on their ipad mini. I find it extremly useful and replaced my costly phone by adding the app with no regrets. It's not for everyone. For me, it works great. One device. Multi-functional screen. Great SMS function. Nice interface. Does not use a lot of my data plan.

I have said this for years. The iPad and iPhone should have different features because of the screen size difference.