Having your phone calls go to a different number is convenient and easy to set up, but Apple doesn’t let you do the kinds of advanced things that would make this so much more useful.
There are many reasons to have more than one phone number, and just as many reasons to want to answer them all on the same phone. With Apple’s iOS 12, you can forward any call to any number at any time. But there are some restrictions that make this feature less useful than it should be.
You need to be in a place with a cell signal to set up Call Forwarding. That’s only true when you’re setting it up, though. Once it’s set up, you can turn the phone off and forwarding will still work.
Go to Settings on your iPhone, scroll down, and tap on Phone. Then you need to tap Call Forwarding.
You’ll get a new screen with a single option called “Call Forwarding” and an on/off switch that will be set to “off.” When you turn it on, you now have a second choice called “Forward To.”
If you tap the arrow to the right, you’ll get a set of numbers. Unsurprisingly, this is where you enter the phone number where you want your calls to go. Surprisingly, you have to type in a number because you can’t just pick one from your list of contacts.
Even stranger, there is neither a “Save” nor a “Done” button.
To go back, you just type in the number and tap the button.
So, you’re all set. Depending on your number and where you are, your iPhone may change to an international number. If it doesn’t, the number you entered will stay the same.
Only when it’s not. We found that sometimes if you force quit System Preferences for some reason, the number might go away. Don’t do that, then.
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That’s it, but that’s all
So setting up Call Forwarding isn’t hard, but you’ve already seen the first problem: you can only forward to one number. If you need to send Tuesday calls to a different number, you know what you have to do every Monday night.
But for a lot of iPhone users, maybe even most of them, there is another problem right away. You can turn to Call Forwarding on or off, but after a few rings, it won’t work.
This is called Conditional Call Forwarding, and it lets you tell your iPhone to send a call somewhere else if you don’t answer your phone after a certain number of rings or amount of time.
We don’t blame Apple for most people not having this feature because it has at least as much to do with the carriers.
If your carrier does support Conditional Call Forwarding, though, the way you turn it on is something from the Stone Age. It requires you to call a certain number, which is set by the carrier, and use a code like #67*.
You know that if Apple was in charge of this, there would be a simple on/off switch. But don’t know how to deal with it, so they don’t.
Shortcuts and Do Not Disturb
Apple could do more, even though you can only forward to one number, and depending on your carrier, you may only be able to forward in certain situations.
When you turn on Do Not Disturb from Control Center, for example, the feature is smart enough to turn itself back on when an event is over or when you leave a place. There must be a way to add a Forward Calls option to the Do Not Disturb setting.
That could be a simple on/off switch in the Do Not Disturb settings, since Call Forwarding is also just an on/off switch after you’ve put in a number once.
That’s a setting on your phone that you can change, so the carrier doesn’t have to do anything else. Adding more phone options to Siri Shortcuts wouldn’t help either. Right now, all you can do with Shortcuts is tell it to ring a number you give it.
Even if you could use Shortcuts to turn on Call Forwarding, you could make routines. If you have “Do Not Disturb” on and a call comes in while you’re at work, send it to your assistant or a coworker.
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Take it and leave it
All of this being said, though, it’s good that you can leave your iPhone at home while you’re on vacation abroad and know that your manager will get all of the calls.
But if that made you stop and think, as it did us, we may now have another idea for something Apple could add to this.
We’d like to Call Forwarding by Selection. Just reroute calls from certain clients and not, say, the partner who can’t seem to remember that you told them not to call you at the office.