Quick Tips to Save Time on the Telephone


With everything a smartphone can do these days, it’s often easy to overlook one of the device’s most basic functions: voice calls. Communicating by telephone has become more complicated in a world of robocalls and automated voice trees

, but your phone may already have the tools to make talking to people (or not) easier. Here are a few suggestions.

Need to call a business that’s not in your contacts list? Just search for the company online with Apple’s Siri, the Google Assistant (or its new Gemini helper) or Samsung’s Bixby. When you see the establishment listed in the search results, just tap the phone icon or telephone number to place the call — or command the virtual assistant to do it.

(If sharing information with your assistant or using artificial-intelligence programs causes concern, read the software’s privacy policy to see how the company is using your data.)

Don’t waste valuable time on calls you didn’t mean to answer. On an iPhone, open the Settings app, select Phone and scroll down to turn on the Silence Unknown Callers feature. Calls from numbers that aren’t in your contacts list will now be muted and sent directly to voice mail.

Apple’s Live Voicemail feature in iOS 17 offers a real-time transcription of messages being recorded — and you have the option to connect with callers while they’re leaving you a message, much like how it worked in the old days with answering machines. You can also send an incoming call right to Live Voicemail by tapping the Voicemail icon on the call screen. Live Voicemail can be toggled off or on in the Phone app’s settings.

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