iOS 7 wants: Ability to mute alerts when on a call

Since the early days of the iPhone, we've received a steady stream of complaints about how alerts are handled when you're on a call. Namely, you can have the phone to your ear, chatting away, when suddenly a text message comes in and the tone and/or vibrate goes off full blast into your ear and rattles through your skull. Since push notifications launched for 3rd party apps, especially the trumpeting horror that is Game Center, it's only gotten worse. If you're not used it to and expecting it, it can make you want to drop your phone and start stomping. That's only mild hyperbole, mind you, as that's exactly what several significant others have told us, with rage-filled eyes, after it happened to them for the first time.

While some people may want to make absolutely sure they don't miss an important alert while on a phone call, and are willing to pay the price in low-yield skull trauma, others would pay a significant amount of money for the option to turn it off.

So how could Apple cater to both types of users? The new Do Not Disturb Settings panel is tempting. But Do Not Disturb is model or timer based. A persistent settings wouldn't make sense there.

But there are already several similar, persistent switches in Settings > Sounds. You can already choose to turn off "Vibrate on Ring" and "Vibrate on Silence", but you may want those on at all times when you don't literally have your iPhone pressed to your ear. Adding an extra toggle, for "Mute All Alerts When on a Call" would be grand. "Notification sounds and vibrations will be temporarily muted when you’re on a call". (See the mock up at the top of this post.)

Apple could implement it using the same proximity sensor that currently tells iOS to turn off and disable multitouch when you've got your iPhone to your face.

It seems small, but it's the small things -- the buzzing flies and water droplets -- that drive us crazy in the end, and this seems like a rather simple one to fix.

Sure, adding "just another setting" is never the best answer. Except when it is.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • When I first switched from the OG Evo to iPhone 4S this was my number one complaint! With two software updates since I bought it, I figured Apple would address this problem.
  • A second this!! I don't know why they haven't done this yet!
  • This is my biggest complaint too. I get so many texts sometimes I can't hear the convo I'm having!
  • Sure, adding "just another setting" is never the best answer. Except when it is. Ok, you just made my brain dizzy, but you do make sense. It would be so simple to fix.
  • This thing makes phone calls ?!?
  • You're Dumb
  • And you're from Canada .... I win!
  • OMG...I just posted a question about this in the forums! I've only been on iOS for 5 months & this is so annoying. I hope they fix it soon. Edit:
    There's something wrong with the iPhone 5 forum. When you hit the link it takes you to the 4S forum. Edit2:
    It seems to work correctly on the iMore Forum app & Tapatalk, just not on the web.
  • "Sure, adding "just another setting" is never the best answer. Except when it is." I love my iPhone 5 just as much as I loved every other iPhone I owned - so of course I love iOS. But honestly, you're more than right on this : without whining, I would say that "just adding another setting" could be the simplest answer to a couple of "nitpicks" and limits about iOS.
  • I don't believe this is small. Nothing has ever made me want to destroy a phone more than having a ringtone going off full volume in my ear. I can't believe anyone at apple thought it was a good idea.
  • Or you could just get a BlackBerry that has had it builtin since day one. Just having fun guys.
  • Use the iPhone as a phone? Seems far fetched but, ok, I'll give it a try.
  • This issue ticks me off SOOOO MUCH I can't even put it into words. Well I can. But they're all four letter swear words. I can't believe this has never been addressed. It's like Apple doesn't actually use their phones, or else this should have been fixed before the original iPhone ever went to market.
  • ^THIS
  • ^Touché
  • My Nitpic is you can no longer send a message when using the Find iPhone app. This came in very handy when someone stole my daughters iPhone at the pool this summer. I was able to send it a message that the Police had been notified and that they needed to return the phone to the pool. The bag with the phone and all was left on the sidewalk right where they saw the message. A ping alert is just not the same. Edit:
    Never mind its called Locked Mode just not in the same place it use to be :)
  • You tricky devil...I saw the picture atop the article and yelled "HELL YES!! ABOUT TIME!!". You can only imagine my disappointment once I found out that's actually a mock up. Bummer.
  • I literally JUST experienced is. I couldn't end a call because I Had to clear THREE messages. These weren't banner notifications, either. They were the type that FORCE you to address them before doing anything else - including using telephone functions.
  • Use the lock button and it will end your call. I don't think I've ever hit the "END" button now that I think if it.
  • What is the "lock" button? Do you mean the mute switch?
  • well, forget it now. Once it's voiced as a customer request, Apple won't do it! They're not into doing things the customer wants!
  • This isn't a nitpick - this is a big #{^$&* annoyance.
  • Definitely the sole thing I miss from my BlackBerry...the 1 beep.
  • By far my biggest peeve...
  • Of all the ridiculous things to complain about. I can't fathom at all why anyone cares about this. It's a very subtle vibration or a simple tone that is no louder than the phone call you are already taking. Whiny, sooky babies, all of you! :-)
  • Gazoobee!!!!!some of us have custom rings(Tone) on our phone that are longer than a simple tone boring tone like you have plus when i am on job call with my boss or client it really overrides the call and i have to tell other person to wait until my 30 sec tone is over so i can hear them.You can not fathom because you do think outside the box .It is not ridiculous to ask too improve something for the customer or express a concern they may have.
    It sounds like your whining about how you think how peopled should go about expressing there concerns about a product they own.
  • This is extremely annoying to me as well. Every time it happens I want to Hulk smash my iPhone. luckily I don't talk on the phone all that much but when I do it's almost always interrupted by a text alert.
  • That is why I say a jailbroken iPhone rocks. I have been using NotiQuiet and it does Just what you are asking for! Hopefully ios6 jb will come soon, if you are still on 5, wait no more and make your iPhone be all it can be, jailbreak!
  • One can also use mute switch while you are on the call. It's the little slider above the volume buttons.
  • There is an option to mute all notifications when on a call so why the whinning. Adding an option of vibrating when a notification pops on a call is just CONFUSING. How would you know if it is a notificatio or a waiting call !!!!! That iswhy apple didn't add this option.
    In the GS3 itis really confusing. Try to reason your claim before CONDEMN.
  • Could someone please help me? I've only had my iPhone 5 (first iPhone) for a couple weeks and I can't seem find this option to mute all notifications when on a call.
  • there more i'm reading things like this, the more i'm baffled by the obvious lack of such no-brainer functions... coming from a blackberry this makes me wonder if i made the right choice in switching to a settings-wise inferior device. -- edit -- i can't confirm the issue since my phone has not yet been delivered. the guy above me says it's perfectly possible to mute all alert when on a call... hope this is the case. still, if you're accustomed to the freedom of being able to customise your device-settings to near-death, i'm certain an iphone will feel like a downgrade for me in that area. though it was/is not my intention to start a flame war, let it begin in 3, 2, 1 ... ^^
  • I agree and like Rene's suggested fix. Another approach would be to implement "profiles" to allow users to further configure alerts based on activity or location.
  • I 1,000,000% agree!!!!!!!!!! I was on the phone with an apple rep and asked him about this very thing with the "chiming in your ear" when on the phone. He actually laughed at me and said, "well you told your phone to give you push notifications". Cop out. As 1 user said before, this is 1 thing I miss from my blackberry.
  • This has been an issue that's drove me nuts ever since I got my first iPhone 2 years ago. It's so simple yet so annoying it's mind blowing Apple hasn't addressed it yet. Another thing that's annoying about it is the fact that you have to address each notification before you end your call too. How am I supposed to hang up on someone when I have to close 3 or 4 notifications first . . smh
  • This is a giant pain in the ear. You have to wait for all the noise to stop, then ask the person to repeat what they just said. I just don't get it. There is a freaking sensor ALREADY on the phone the makes the screen go dark when on a call, why can't it mute all the noise too??
  • Nice solution. But I would prefer some ability to level sounds when you have multiple applications competing at once. In the phone scenario I like your option....mute...but also would like to see notification sounds play at 50% or 30% volume. Better yet, user defined slider. This is really a major problem on all platforms. When listening to iTunes on Mac and an appointment is due the sound rattles you right out of your chair. Internet sites auto-playing audio/video that blasts through at Spinal Tap levels has me racing to kill the browser and never returning to the site. iOS could be a nice platform to define and implement some audio leveling design that could later be applied to OSX. There has been a desperate need for smart leveling for years and yet nothing has appeared. It is not an easy problem to solve but it is quite solvable, which makes it a perfect task for Apple. This is one of the things that is anti-Apple in that it just doesn't work. Until then Rene's suggestion would be quite welcome.
  • or stay with 5.1.1, jailbreak it, and use RingerX VIP. That's the simplest solution. I left my BB a month ago, but the pain of not having profiles is still with me. This far into the game and Apple still hasn't implemented this, or even the small ability to make something like Google Talk have a different tone. Geez Apple, come on!!! I would have never switched to iPhone without RingerX VIP.
  • "Apple could implement it using the same proximity sensor that currently tells iOS to turn off and disable multitouch when you've got your iPhone to your face." What?!? I think the iPhone can tell when it's making a call, it wouldn't need to use the proximity sensor- also what about the times you have a call on speaker? Just like everyone else has said this is my NUMBER ONE gripe about the iPhone, especially that I have a number of custom text tones for my friends and said friends use group iMessage A LOT. There have been times I have been on a call and had to tell the person on the other end to wait to keep talking because I can't hear them over the chorus of alerts.
  • They could just make it happen, I always find myself saying WTF? When that sound and vibration goes off in my ear. It's annoying to say the least!
  • My solution is simple, as soon as I'm due an upgrade I'm ditching the iPhone and going back to something with a keypad so I don't constantly have to retype text messages because the wrong letters are pressed and I can enjoy a phone conversation without all this fanfare blasting in my ear in mid sentence!
  • Sadly, this still happens in iOS 7.
  • I really thought this would be addressed in ios7. So annoying! I find myself hitting this silent toggle whenever I get a call