There are a surprising number of hidden features in your iPhone's Phone app, from secret dialer codes that provide info or perform actions to special characters that dial extensions automatically. However, there's one little-known trick every iPhone owner should know when using the Phone app for calls — and it's the simplest and most useful of them all.
Whenever you're in the middle of a phone call and need to step away for a moment, whether it's to use the bathroom, silence a coughing fit, or yell at somebody in another room, you can tap the mute button for the microphone on Phone's interface so that the other party can't hear you.
The problem with muting yourself on the call is that you can still hear them. If that's your intention — to listen to them while you take care of noisy tasks and then unmute yourself when it's your turn to talk — tapping the mute button on Phone's interface is perfect.
If you don't want to hear them, like when you have to leave the room and don't want anyone nearby to eavesdrop on the other caller, there's a better option: put the call on hold. The other caller won't know that the call is on hold unless you tell them beforehand, just like they wouldn't know you muted yourself.
There is no hold button in the call's interface, but that's because it's hidden behind the mute button. To activate it, long-press the mute button until it turns into a hold button with a pause button in the circle. This works whether you have the call on mute or not. To take the call off hold, tap the pause symbol.
This also works for FaceTime audio-only calls since it uses the same interface.
When I said that the other person on the line wouldn't know when you put the call on hold, that's mostly true. Very few wireless carriers — so few that I can't even name any of them — let you enable hold music for your account. If you're one of the lucky ones, you may even be able to customize the song or audio that's played during the hold. In this case, the other caller would catch on.
Hold music is primarily a business and enterprise feature, so you'll have difficulty finding any hold music options on regular consumer cellular plans.
Some VoIP options, such as Google Voice, will play hold music in certain situations. So if you're talking with somebody who uses the Google Voice app (who likely is using Wi-Fi or mobile data), they can put the call on hold, and you'll hear hold music, but they won't. If you put them on hold and your carrier doesn't offer hold music, nobody will hear any songs.
If you want to get a Google Voice number for your iPhone to play other callers hold music, you'd have to make sure Google Voice is set to make and receive calls over Wi-Fi and mobile data instead of using your carrier only. This will make you use Google Voice's interface, which has a dedicated hold button. Otherwise, it will relay your call and use Phone's interface, where you can still put the call on hold without hold music. Other VoIP options will be similar.
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