iOS 6: Replying to Calls with Messages

| TMO Quick Tip

In iOS 6, we can now brush people off—I mean, respond to our phone calls more effectively. You may have noticed that when someone calls you, there's now a new little phone icon right next to Slide to Answer.


Slide that phone button upward, and you'll see new choices. You can decline the call as before, send a message to the caller if you can't pick up the phone, or set a reminder to yourself to call the person back later.

Pick either of the latter two options, and the call is automatically declined with your caller being shuffled off to voicemail. If you've chosen Reply with Message, you'll see the following:

The first three selections there will send your caller a text message saying—well, whatever you chose from the list. Hitting Custom… will allow you to type in a new text message on the fly.

If you'd like to change these default messages, you can do so within Settings > Phone > Reply with Message. Just type over the existing ones, and you can be as asinine as you like.

Obviously, I can be pretty asinine.

If you choose Remind Me Later instead of Reply with Message, though, you'll be allowed to set either a time-based or location-based reminder to call the person back.

Here's something neat, too—within the Reminders app on the iPhone, the reminders you add like that will be formatted with a link as the title. Touching the link will call the person back right from that app.

That's all pretty cool, but I gotta say that it's getting harder and harder for me to avoid people completely. What's a socially awkward gal to do?

Popular TMO Stories


Lee Dronick

What I am finding interesting is that replying with a text message only works with cell phone numbers, landlines can not receive texts. Yes, more and more people are ditching landline service and going only with cell phones, but there are still a lot of landline calls being made. I am wondering if instead of replying with a text message that the phone could reply with a voice message and then send the caller to voice mail.

Now I am off to try an experiment. I am going to call my iPhone from my landline and see if there is an option to reply with a text. Get back to you in a bit and let you know what I find.

Lee Dronick

I conducted the experiment, called my iPhone from a landline. I indeed had the option to send a text message which I did. Almost immediately I got a text back:

“Error invalid number. please re-send using a valid 10 digit mobile number or valid short code.”


Interesting process but I have an easier way. I leave my phone in my pack and only check it for messages every few days. People learn to not call, or if they do to leave a message and not hold their breath. My friends know that if they want to get me IM or e-mail. Those I check continuously.

Though I might use the GO AWAY AND STOP CALLING ME message. Variations:
I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m pretending to be dead for a year for tax purposes.
The number you have dialed goes through an exchange in hell. If you continue with this call, extra charges will apply.
This telephone has been reconfigured by The Doctor. The person you have called will get back to you soon, or in a thousand years, or last week.

I’m liking this more and more.

Melissa Holt

Thanks for testing that out, Lee! I was curious as to what would happen, but I didn’t have a landline to check it out with.

Oh, geoduck, how I wish I could follow your example.



Many thanks, Melissa. I’ve been using these features since they were made available, and they work as advertised.

While I can’t speak for socially awkward gals (or any girls/ladies for that matter), you could record a disclaimer message, warning callers that, due to your social awkwardness, you are not responsible for any uncomfortable situations in which they might find themselves, should they proceed with contacting you. Of course, that could result in a very quiet social life.

Geoduck: I envy your ability to leave your phone in your pack. I only wish I could do likewise, or record that ‘Go away!’ message. Alas, ‘tis not the life I’ve chosen.

Melissa Holt

You’re welcome, wab! I think I should just wear a shirt saying that I’m not responsible for uncomfortable situations. wink

Brittany Niedermeyer

I am trying to get the reply with message option to work, but it is not an option on my phone when a call comes in. It works when I called my fiancé, but not vice versa. Please help!!

Melissa Holt

Hi Brittany,

My best guess would be that you are either using a device that’s too old to run iOS 6 (in which case you won’t be able to use this feature), or your phone is capable of running it but hasn’t been updated. To see what version of iOS you’re running, go to Settings> General> About and look under “Version.” If that number doesn’t start with a 6, then you’ll have to either update your software or wait until you get a newer device if it can’t be updated.

Hope that helps!

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account