Check Out the Silence Unknown Callers Feature in iOS 13 for Blocking Spam Calls

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Spam phone calls have become increasingly problematic in the United States over the course of the last few years, and most people receive multiple spam calls per week, and some, per day.

Apple is aiming to help combat spam phone calls in iOS 13 with a new "Silence Unknown Callers" feature, which does what the name suggests - it silences incoming phone calls from numbers that are not in your contacts list. In our latest YouTube video, we checked out this feature to demonstrate just how it works.


With the Silence Unknown Callers feature activated, all incoming calls to our test phone from unknown numbers (aka numbers not in our Contacts list) were silenced.

Silenced means sent straight to voicemail without the phone ringing at all, but the person does have the chance to leave a voice message. The person being blocked still hears the standard number of rings before voicemail picks up, so there's no real indication that Silence Unknown Callers is on.

For a call to come through with Silence Unknown Callers turned on, it needs to be added to the Contacts list. A number previously sent in an email (iOS can sometimes recognize phone numbers from emails) does not green light a call to go through. If you call a number that was sent straight to voicemail, however, it is no longer recognized as an unknown number even if that number isn't added to your contacts.

Silence Unknown Callers is a simple solution, but it's not identifying spam calls or risky numbers specifically. It's blocking out all unknown numbers, which may not always be a desirable solution. Still, those silenced callers can leave voicemails and the numbers are listed in the Recents list in the Phone app, so this is a solid way to cut down on calls that you don't want if you're contacted by a lot of spammers.

You can turn on the Silence Unknown Callers feature in iOS 13 by opening up the Settings app, selecting the Phone section, scrolling down to "Call Silencing and Blocked Contacts" and toggling the Silence Unknown Callers option to the on position.

Silence Unknown Callers is activated right now in both the iOS 13 developer and public betas, and it will be available for everyone with an iOS 13-compatible iPhone when iOS 13 launches this fall.

Article Link: Check Out the Silence Unknown Callers Feature in iOS 13 for Blocking Spam Calls
 

cashxx

macrumors member
Sep 14, 2010
65
110
this is not what I imagined this would be. I wanted blocks for calls that come up on callerid as "unknown", not to block the world except for what's in my contacts... Apple please try again.

Yea, I agree! Still a nice feature though and been loving not getting calls constantly for warranty service! But there are times when a credit card company or something may call. I think it just sends them to voicemail, but could be wrong.
 

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,924
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Washington DC
this is not what I imagined this would be. I wanted blocks for calls that come up on callerid as "unknown", not to block the world except for what's in my contacts... Apple please try again.

Ironically, the "unknown" callers are all things I want to answer these days. It tends to be a doctor or government office, usually.

Meanwhile, every spammer in the world has figured out how to spoof the area code next to mine so they appear to be local calls from the next town over.

Not sure that blocking 'unknown' would do a darned thing anymore. Spammers have moved on.
 

WilliamG

macrumors G3
Mar 29, 2008
9,129
2,602
Seattle
this is not what I imagined this would be. I wanted blocks for calls that come up on callerid as "unknown", not to block the world except for what's in my contacts... Apple please try again.

Agreed. I get calls from doctors or my vet or whatever, and they don't always call from the regular number listed for them. I know for myself - I'd never use this feature.
 

PickUrPoison

macrumors 604
Sep 12, 2017
7,746
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Sunnyvale, CA
this is not what I imagined this would be. I wanted blocks for calls that come up on callerid as "unknown", not to block the world except for what's in my contacts... Apple please try again.
No, blocking unknown is not very helpful, pretty much useless actually. Nearly all of my robocalls have caller ID, many times spoofed with my area code and sometimes a local prefix, or even my exact prefix. I rarely get a phone call that comes through as unknown/no caller ID.
 
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vmistery

macrumors 6502a
Apr 6, 2010
763
503
UK
Good to see more action taken but sadly not a practical solution. It’d be better if it integrated into a database of known spam numbers rather than blocking everything. For example, my doctors rings from multiple phone numbers so I’d have to make sure I added them all and i had a legitimate call from a water company the other day from a different department than their customer service one. The problem with both those is they never leave voicemails!
[doublepost=1565037708][/doublepost]
It’s so crazy. When I was in the US and got a SIM card from AT&T I kept getting random calls from Cuba or the Bahamas within a day. I have not had a single spam call here in Germany, ever
I only get one or two a month here in the U.K.!
 
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gbc204

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May 9, 2011
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Yea, I agree! Still a nice feature though and been loving not getting calls constantly for warranty service! But there are times when a credit card company or something may call. I think it just sends them to voicemail, but could be wrong.

Plus--and this is probably one of the worst parts of having kids--I usually have to answer most unknown calls in a certain area code because it could be my kid's school or daycare or random worker from one of these places. I'd rather just have a function where you can silence these calls as they come in. Right now call block doesn't stop the phone from at least ringing/vibrating at least once so the spam calls are still maddening when I get 5 an hour.
 
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ipedro

macrumors 603
Nov 30, 2004
5,383
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Toronto, ON
Best thing ever. I'm going to use the heck out of this feature.

I don't like taking calls, period. If it's a friend, I'll interrupt the call with a text that I'll call them back later or ask what they need via text. If it's an unknown caller, my phone gets blocked for 30 seconds or however long it takes to let the call hang up normally. This will finally fix that.

An additional feature I'd love would be if we could record a local greeting, rather than have callers listen to the one recorded on the phone company system. I'd like to filter unknown callers to a greeting that says: I don't take unscheduled calls. Please send me an email/text to this number. That's what I recorded in my voicemail greeting but then they end up leaving a voice mail and I have to manage those instead.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
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It’s so crazy. When I was in the US and got a SIM card from AT&T I kept getting random calls from Cuba or the Bahamas within a day. I have not had a single spam call here in Germany, ever
That's not due to AT&T putting you on some list.
Unfortunately prepaid SIMS use phone numbers that are frequently turned over.
Who knows how many lists that number was put on over its lifetime.
 
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ugcop

macrumors 6502a
Mar 15, 2012
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Traveling @ Warp Speed ...... USA
It blocks any and all numbers NOT in your contact list. I have been using it from day one and have not had a single sales, give away, phishing Robo call of any kind. It sends everything not in contacts to voicemail with no ring on your end. In the weeks I have used it I only had two legitimate calls go to voicemail and they left messages. I then added them to contacts. I’m loving it.
 

arkmannj

macrumors 68000
Oct 1, 2003
1,619
386
UT
Wish iOS could prevent blocked numbers from leaving voicemails.

Even better would be iOS responding to blocked callers with "We're sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service"

I used to have this message (in the old operator voice) as my Voicemail greeting. It was great and did get me off of a lot of spam lists. That was before I needed my phone for work 24x7.

Family/friends knew it was my message so they would still leave one, but a lot of spam callers believed their ears :)



I wish the new blocking capabilities would have some logic you could put behind it besides just a contact list. The company I work for tends to by Blocks/ranges of phone numbers in the areas that they operate, I'd like to clear those ranges. But I can see why this would be a generally uncommon request.
 
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MisterSavage

macrumors 68020
Nov 10, 2018
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This is a step in the right direction, but the Android Call Screening is really slick. If you haven't seen it...
One of the only features I envy on Android.

I was really hoping iOS 13 would have something like that.

It blocks any and all numbers NOT in your contact list. I have been using it from day one and have not had a single sales, give away, phishing Robo call of any kind. It sends everything not in contacts to voicemail with no ring on your end. In the weeks I have used it I only had two legitimate calls go to voicemail and they left messages. I then added them to contacts. I’m loving it.

I can't turn this on fast enough. If it's something legit like a doctor's office they would leave a voicemail.
 

yanki01

macrumors 68040
Feb 28, 2009
3,517
1,643
It blocks any and all numbers NOT in your contact list. I have been using it from day one and have not had a single sales, give away, phishing Robo call of any kind. It sends everything not in contacts to voicemail with no ring on your end. In the weeks I have used it I only had two legitimate calls go to voicemail and they left messages. I then added them to contacts. I’m loving it.

that's great. I wish it wouldn't allow them to leave a voicemail but good job either way.

the amount of free cruises, free vacation getaways, computer virus, zero my student loan debt, payoff my mortgage, expired vehicle warranty, irs has a warrant for my arrest, iCloud has been hacked voicemails i've gotten over the last year has been astounding.

all my contacts have a ringer. non-contacts have no ringer and are silent.
 

Wildkraut

macrumors 6502a
Nov 8, 2015
915
1,110
Typical for Apple, half-baked feature, like many others i expected to be able to block No-CallerID(unknown) callers completely. Like No ring & no notifications, etc.
Simply ignore them, like if they never called me.
But this way it's a joke.

At home I already block them completely.
Anyway, who has something to hide(their phone number), don't worth a talk at all.
Regardless if its gov, med etc. they better write a letter, email, or simply call over their main phone number.
 

RyanInBinary

macrumors member
Oct 30, 2017
47
85
My favorite part of this feature is the way that my iPad still rings because there is no option to Silence Unknown Calls in iPadOS, because my iPad is setup to allow me to answer my phone when it’s nearby. So now my iPad rings constantly for spam calls, and my phone never makes noise.
 
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nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,763
3,241
this is not what I imagined this would be. I wanted blocks for calls that come up on callerid as "unknown", not to block the world except for what's in my contacts... Apple please try again.
Agreed. This feature has the potential to be hugely misused. I would like this feature to be "Silence callers" with 4 check box values:
  • Callers not in your Contacts list
  • Callers identified by Call Blocking & Identification apps
  • Callers in Blocked Contacts list
  • Callers without identifiable caller ID (Unknown and No Caller ID)
 

thisisnotmyname

macrumors 68020
Oct 22, 2014
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I went to the iOS 13 beta for this. I'm very happy with the results.

edit to add: I can count the number of people who know me but call me on one hand anyway. People who know me generally are going to contact me in any number of other ways (FaceTime video/audio, Messages, Skype, Slack, Snap, etc...). Plain old telephone calls are nearly extinct other than scammers.
 
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