iPhone dialing annoyances

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When I first picked up my iphone, I was concerned that I’d have trouble with the lack of tactile feedback on the phone’s dialpad. I’d have to look at the buttons to dial instead of just going by touch. That hasn’t turned out to be a problem. There’s a couple of things that do annoy me, however. They’re not big things, but they tend to get in the way of being productive.

When looking at a web page or an email, the iPhone will detect strings that look like htey might be a phone number. These are hyperlinked and tapping one of them will cause the iPhone to offer to dial that number for you. It’s fantastic. The problem is, this doesn’t work in other places. Phone numbers in the notes or location field of a calendar item aren’t linked. Numbers in a notepad aren’t linked.

When I have a phone meeting, I don’t want to create a contact entry—this is often the only time I’ll ever call that number. When I’m on the phone and someone gives me a phone number that I need to write down, I need somewhere to stick it temporarily; the note app seems the logical place to do that. But to dial any number that’s in Notes or a calendar item, I need to write it down or memorize it so I can dial it manually.

Apple, please start linking phone numbers everywhere, or give me copy and paste so I can paste a number into the dialpad.

When you’re on a call, you can jump to your contacts list. You can read a contact, dial a contact and add them to your call, and all sorts of other things. But you can’t edit an existing contact. And you can’t add a contact. The contacts app is inexplicably missing the "add" and "edit" buttons in the contact list any time the phone is on a call. This makes no sense. There’s no technical limitation that should be preventing this. Apple intentionally made the decision to hobble the contact app when you’re on a call.

Many contacts have extension numbers. Since the contact app doesn’t have an extension field, I’d gotten into the habit of entering them with a fairly common notation: (555) 123-4567 x890. My Blackberry would dial that number for me, pause a few seconds, and then dial the extension. Great for automated phone systems.

The iPhone, however, doesn’t do anything with the numbers after the "x". It just dials the number and then stops. I have to enter the extension manually. Doing so is made more difficult, however, by the fact that the iPhone doesn’t display the number that it just dialed, only the contact name. So I need to look at and remember the extension number before I dial the contact.

As a workaround, I’ve changed all the phone numbers in my address book to include pauses instead of extension numbers: (555) 123-4567,,890. This works, but it’s forcing me to enter data the way a computer recognizes it instead of the way a human recognizes it. Just about everywhere else in the iPhone, I enter information in a human-recognizable form and the phone figures it out.

The great thing about the iPhone, however, is that it’s all software. So these issues are fixable without requiring me to replace the phone. So here’s hopping that an upcoming software update fixes these annoyances.

Jason Lancaster
September 25, 2007 12:32 PM

Not that it's a fix, I'd like to see x's work too but if you don't like using commas for pauses you could always use a single p to denote a pause. So (555) 123-4567,,890 would end up (555) 123-4567 p890. It's a little better.

September 28, 2007 10:07 AM

Actually, i would just be satisfied with a copy/paste/clipboard type feature. If I can copy in between apps. or copy from a web page and paste into the phone or safari that would solve at least some of the same productivity issues.

Jacques Albagli
October 7, 2007 3:47 PM

I have a calling card which asks for the phone number then for the security code and then the phone number. With my blackberry I was able to pause as many seconds as needed, in order to fit perfectly with the time between each step of processing the call. Now with my Iphone I dial (786) 206 8495, 900201234,011562XXXXXX (the number). And after the call is done it seems like the pause does have an effect but then the password is not recognized. I receive a message telling me that the password from the calling card is incorrect. I tried several times with one, or more "," but it didn't work. My calling card is perfectly working with the Blackberry and home phone. Do not know what is happening Jacques

Greg S
December 1, 2008 1:58 PM

Any word on whether or not Apple has started working on the ability to click on a phone number in a calendar meeting??? This is rediculously frustrating... Is there an external calendar app that does this?

January 9, 2009 11:26 AM

yeah- lack of calendar dialing is going to result in a lot of car-crashes for the hosers out there trying to dial into bridge lines from the car.

Jason McHale
March 13, 2009 10:14 AM

This is beyond rediculous. I had an iPhone 3G for a while. Thought it would be nice to switch from outlook, use iCal etc. I'm in the process of hunting for apartments. Loading numbers, address into my calender for open houses. Within seconds I realize there is no way for me to click on the address (location field) or click on a phone number I entered that I will use just once!!!!!!!!! F$*k you Apple. Are they that dumb? We all talk about copy and paste, which would be a solution (from the 80's mind you). But for this not to be a feature is beyond absurd. Did not one fool in cupertino use this before?? No wonder people don't use this for business. Wake up Apple!!!! I'm done with them when the Palm Pre comes out. Contract penalty and all. Anybody know of a 3rd party app that can have some of this functionality in the meantime???

Jeff Rosner
July 3, 2009 4:51 PM

My previous Blackberry recognized a phone number in ANY context and dialed just by clicking it. My daughter has long been making fun of it, but now with my iPhone I have lost that hugely convenient capability...grrrrr!!!

Steve Fox
August 30, 2010 6:45 PM

There's an app for that! Check out ApptDialer in the AppStore. It fills the exact hole described in this post.

November 15, 2010 1:53 AM

or also you can try "All speed dial", it mainly allows you do search/dial a contact with the minimum keystrokes

February 8, 2011 6:34 AM

You all have figured out how to copy and paste by now right???

March 10, 2011 7:56 PM

You can create a phone link in calendar entries by including it in the body. It won't work in the location field. Use the tel: link format to use HTML style links or simply put the number in the body like this 999.999.9999,99999 where the first 10 digits are the phone number, a comma for 2 second pause and the last x digits are the extension or conference call passcode. Just switched from Blackberry to iPhone for work where we use Outlook/Exchange and found iPhone's calendar/phone dialing capabilities lacking. The trick above is a work around, but not as slick as BB which let's you pick numbers from the location field. Also, you cannot include a # after the passcode or iPhone won't dial the number at all. You need to hit # manually. Not as elegant as BB, Palm or others, but much better than cludgy edit/cut/paste or manual dialing (especially when driving).

May 24, 2011 1:54 PM

Thanks Jim Anybody know how to add a # or * to a dialing string for the iPhone?

This discussion has been closed.

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