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How To Forward Calls From Your iPhone

It’s convenient and simple to have your phone calls rerouted to another number, but while Apple makes it simple to set up, it doesn’t allow you to do the advanced features that would make this so much more useful.
There are numerous reasons to have more than one phone number and equally numerous reasons to answer them on a single phone. Apple’s iOS 12 allows you to forward any call to any number you want, at any time. However, certain limitations make this feature less useful than it should be.

Simple setup

You must enable Call Forwarding while in an area with a cell signal. But only while you’re setting it up; after that, you can turn the phone off completely and the forwarding will still work.

Go to Settings, scroll down, and tap Phone on your iPhone. Then select Call Forwarding.

You’ll see a new screen with only one option, Call Forwarding and an on/off toggle that will be set to off. When you turn it on, a new option called Forward To appears.

Tap on the right arrow to bring up a numeric keypad. This is, unsurprisingly, where you enter the phone number to which you want your calls forwarded. Surprisingly, you must enter a phone number; you cannot simply select someone from your contact list.

Even more surprisingly, there is no Save or Done button.

To return, simply enter the number and tap the button.

That’s it; you’re done. Depending on your phone number and location, your iPhone may convert it to an international number, but the number you entered is permanent.

Unless, of course, it isn’t. We discovered that if you force quit System Preferences for whatever reason, the number may disappear. So, don’t do it.

That’s all there is to it.

So setting up Call Forwarding isn’t difficult, but you’ve already seen the first limitation — you can only forward to one number. If you need to forward calls to another number on Tuesdays, you know what to do every Monday night.

However, there is another immediate limitation for many, if not most, iPhone users. You can toggle Call Forwarding on and off, but it won’t work after a few rings.

Conditional Call Forwarding is the ability to tell your iPhone that if you haven’t answered your phone after a certain number of rings or times, it should forward the call to someone else.

We’re not blaming Apple for not including this feature for most people because it’s up to individual carriers just as much.

If your carrier does support it, however, the method for activating Conditional Call Forwarding is archaic. It necessitates dialing a specific number assigned by the carrier and including code commands such as #67*.

You know that if Apple handled this, it would be as simple as an on/off switch. But they can’t handle it, so they don’t.

Do Not Disturb and Shortcuts

Even with the limitation of having only one number to forward to and whatever conditional forwarding limitations carriers impose, Apple could do more.

When you enable Do Not Disturb from Control Center, for example, there is already a lot of intelligence built in to ensure that it is turned back on at the end of an event or when you leave a location. There must be a way to include a Forward Calls option in Do Not Disturb.

That could be a simple on/off switch in the Do Not Disturb options, especially since Call Forwarding is just an on/off toggle after you’ve entered a number once.

That is controlling a setting on your phone; no further assistance from the carrier is required. Extending the Phone options in Siri Shortcuts would not help either. Right now, the only thing you can do is have Shortcuts ring a number you give it.

Making it possible to enable Call Forwarding via Shortcuts would allow you to create routines. If a call comes in while Do Not Disturb is turned on and it is during office hours, reroute it to your assistant or a colleague.

You can take it or leave it

All of this being said, it’s nice to know that you can leave your iPhone at home while on vacation and know that all calls will be routed to your manager.

However, if that thought gave you pause, as it did us, we may have another idea for something Apple could add to this.

Selective Call Forwarding is something we’d like. Simply redirect calls from specific clients rather than, say, the partner who can’t seem to remember that you told them not to call you at the office.

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