Customizing Your iPhone Phone App

The iPhone’s features are often a diversion around its true function: a phone.

You can send a variety of text and media messages, connect with almost all social networking services, check your email, browse the internet, play games, and do just about any digital function you can think of and, yeah, you can call people as well.  The iPhone’s Phone app, which is one of the built in apps that is crucial to its functionality and cannot be deleted, simply allows you to make phone calls. These calls are drawn from numbers that are either entered right there or are drawn from your Contacts List, a complex list that you build that does not just list people’s phone numbers, but also address, email, and even social networking.  The majority of what you will be doing with the iPhone’s Phone function is relatively implicit, but you will still need to customize and prepare your phone so that this function is better connected with your preferences.  Here is a look at how to get your Phone function set up in your iPhone properly.

The first thing that you are going to want to do is to develop your Contacts List, which is fundamental to building up your iPhone in general.  You can access your Contacts List both in the Utilities folder on your home screen or in the Phone app, and when looking at the list you can add a contact by hitting the “+” button in the upper right hand corner.  This will bring up a New Contact form where you can add a name, a company if relevant, the mobile number, the home number, a ringtone, a tone for text messages, a home page URL, and the ability to add new fields such as email.  You can also apply a photo image from your Photo Roll, or it can allow you to take a new one when selecting to add to that picture box.  Once you hit the Done button it will add this contact to your list, and you can then select this from the list to easily make a call.  All contacts you come in contact with should be added to your list so that you can create an internal database of contacts.  This will then support your Phone, as well as your text messages and email account so that you can easily draw from whom you know and create constant communication.

Beyond this, your contacts can be put into groups and these groups can be observed by selecting as such from the regular Contacts List.  These groups can be added to the My Mac or iCloud sections, and you can choose to group them up from your complete list.  This is going to be effective for working on group projects, identifying co-workers, keeping specific contacts together, and generally segregating large numbers of contacts for speed and efficiency.

Like most areas of the iPhone 4s, you can adjust the Phone settings so that it can be better customized to your needs.  Go into Settings and then go down to Phone, which will be above FaceTime and below Twitter.  Inside the Phone Settings you will first see your phone number listed at the very time.  Below that is a number of settings to address the way calls are handling, starting out with Call Forwarding.  You can turn on Call Forwarding and then set an additional outside phone number that will then take the call that’s forwarded.  Below that is the similar Call Waiting, which is set to On by default.  Show My Caller ID is also set to On, and allows you to see the number and Contact that is calling you.  Beyond this you can turn on TTY, alter the password you have set for your voicemail password, and turn on International Assist that will automatically put in the country specific prefix for international phone calls.

At the bottom of the Phone Settings options will be one to enter in the SIM PIN, which will not really be of use to most people and should likely be ignored.  At the very bottom of the screen will AT&T Services (or the services for your carrier), and when opened you will get a whole list of numbers and call links for different functions offered.  These include checking the balance of your bills, getting directory assistance, paying your bill, viewing data and messaging, viewing your minutes, and voice connect.  There is also a direct link to AT&T MyAccount.

Visual Voicemail is also going to be a functionally important part of the Phone app.  This is different than conventional voicemail in that it creates a visual representation as it downloads the voicemails onto the phone, and allows you to play them back like an audio file with the information of the caller present.  You can then choose to delete them, replay them, or call the number back.  You have to make sure this is set up, and on your account you will likely maintain a password.  You can just try to enter this onto your iPhone 4s to reconnect with your voicemail account, or you can call 611 to make sure that this is set up.  Ensure that you have relevant information before you call, such as the account number and the social security number of the account holder.


It is also important to note that there are still quick key, or keyboard shortcuts, in the dialing section of the Phone app.  This is more standard in traditional cell phones since it is easier to speed things up with this, but on smartphones like the iPhone 4s the shortcut model is often replaced with a more detailed software oriented system.  This has not been entirely removed from the Phone section, so you can use these for some quick connect.  If you just hit the Call button on a blank dial up screen it will bring up the last number that was entered into the phone and called manually.  If you hold down the 1 button it will immediately call your voicemail.  To the left of the Call button will be an Add Contact button, and will add a contact to the Contacts List if a number is entered above.  You will get two options from this: Create New Contact or Add to Existing Contact.

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