The iPhone has a hidden feature that lets you automatically answer incoming calls after a specific amount of time. This works with phone, FaceTime, and app calls.
Sighted people may take this feature for granted, but it can be helpful for blind or visually impaired users with motor control challenges.
- Go to Settings
If you have a hard time answering calls on your iPhone because of greasy or wet hands, you can use a handy feature called “Auto-Answer Calls.” This accessibility option automatically answers incoming calls after a specific amount of time that you can set. It works with cellular phone calls, as well as FaceTime and third-party apps like WhatsApp.
The Auto-Answer Calls feature is available on a number of Apple devices, including the iPhone 11 and later, and on some other brands, such as OnePlus and Samsung. It also works with voicemail. To activate this feature, go to Settings Tap on Phone Favorites and select the contact you want to automatically answer. You can add multiple numbers to the list. To disable this feature, go to the same menu and tap on the three dots in the upper right corner Edit Favorites and remove the number.
Apple has added a new feature in iOS 16 that allows you to toggle the Auto-Answer Calls feature on or off hands-free with Siri. This feature is especially helpful for those with motor impairments who struggle to touch the screen of their iPhone. You can enable or disable this feature by going to Settings Accessibility Touch Call Audio Routing Auto-Answer Calls.
You can also disable this feature on your Watch by opening the My Watch tab and tapping on the General menu My Watch Accessibility PhoneCall Settings Auto-Answer Calls. You can also change the duration of time that your watch waits for a call before it is auto-answered by dragging the slider on the bottom.
Although this feature can be very useful for people with limited mobility, it is important to remember that it may not work in all situations. If you are having a private conversation or have sensitive information, it’s best to leave the phone alone. Moreover, you should be cautious about using this feature when driving because it could distract your attention. It is also advisable not to use this feature if you are having a conversation with someone who might be upset or angry with you.
Apple really loves accessibility, to the point of having a whole section of settings devoted to it. Most people who use an iPhone, however, rarely dig deep into the accessibility options, which can make a huge difference to those with specific vision, hearing, mobility or learning needs.
Some of these features are well known, such as VoiceOver, which reads out loud button labels, the time and text displayed on the screen. Others are less so, such as Zoom or Audio Descriptions, which can describe what’s happening in audio-visual content. These are aimed at helping users with visual and hearing impairments, but anyone can benefit from them.
Among the most under-appreciated is Auto-Answer Calls, which can automatically answer incoming calls after a set number of seconds (three by default) have passed. This is particularly useful for those with motor impairments, which might make swiping to answer a call difficult. To enable it, go to the Settings app, then tap Accessibility. Here, find the Touch heading within the PHYSICAL AND MOTOR section, and turn on the switch next to Auto-Answer Calls.
Other settings in this category include Guided Access, which allows you to keep your device locked down to a single app and lock individual parts of the screen, for example to stop someone else wandering through your apps. There’s also AssistiveTouch, which lets you assign one-tap shortcuts to hardware buttons and gesture controls, and Background Sounds, which plays soothing white noise, again aimed at users with hearing or vision impairments.
If you’ve ticked one or more of these options as an Accessibility Shortcut, they can be enabled instantly by a triple-click of the side button or Home button (or Face ID on iPhone XS and later). You can also configure which function triggers the menu — for example, you can select a feature such as Back Tap, which turns the back of your phone into a virtual button for quick action.
Other notable options available in this section are Larger Text, Smart Invert Colors and Classic Invert Colors, which can invert the entire system color palette for a quick fix to color blindness.
- Call Audio Routing
Apple’s assistive technologies built into their devices have long been a big help for people with disabilities that prevent them from tapping touch targets on the iPhone screen. One of the big improvements in iOS 16 and watchOS 9 is letting you answer calls hands-free by simply saying “Hey Siri, turn on auto-answer”.
This feature will automatically route incoming phone calls to the device that you have selected as the default audio output — for example, to your Bluetooth speaker or headphones. The audio isn’t transmitted over the air, so it’s not perfect — you might not be able to hear your caller, and the microphone might pick up background noise if you’re wearing earbuds. But for many people, it’s much better than having to touch and swipe the screen.
The setup is very easy, but you have to know how to use it. The first step is to open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap the home button. Then, scroll down to the bottom and tap Accessibility. Tap the switch next to Auto-Answer Calls to turn it on. Then, select the preferred audio output and set the time limit for how long you’d like your phone to automatically answer the calls without touching the screen.
Once you’ve set the timer, you can activate this feature by saying “Hey Siri” when a call comes in and then letting the Siri assistant speak for you. You can also disable the automatic answering by returning to the Settings app and turning the switch off.
This setting is also available on OnePlus and Xiaomi phones, but you may have to dig a bit deeper into the Settings to find it. For OnePlus phones, go to Settings > Sound & vibration > Earphone mode and turn off the Auto-answer call option. On Xiaomi phones, go to Dialer and touch the three-dots icon in the upper right corner to open settings. Then, touch Audio and then Auto-Answer call to enable or disable the feature. Alternatively, on Samsung phones, you can go to the Call settings menu and enable or disable the Auto-answer option by touching it.
- Auto-Answer Calls
If you have trouble answering calls using the touch screen on your iPhone because you’re cooking, washing dishes or driving and it’s difficult to slide the call to answer, you can set your phone to automatically answer calls for you after a certain period of time. This feature is available on any iPhone that runs iOS 11 or later and can also work for FaceTime and calls from third-party apps like Skype and WhatsApp. To enable auto-answer on your iPhone, open the Settings app and scroll down to Accessibility. You’ll find the Call Audio Routing option there, which includes the Auto-Answer call function.
On the Settings page, you can choose how long your phone should ring before it automatically answers a call. The default is 3 seconds, but you can change it to as short or as long as you want. You can also choose whether your calls will be routed to the iPhone speaker or a Bluetooth headset. If you’re using a hearing aid, you can also route the call to your earpiece.
Once you’ve set the duration of your calls, toggle the switch for Auto-Answer Calls to turn it on. You can also use the + and – buttons to adjust the wait time. Your calls will be answered automatically after the specified amount of time, even if your phone is in Do Not Disturb mode.
If you’ve ever noticed your Apple Watch connecting incoming calls without your approval, you may have suspected it to be a bug. However, it’s not a bug, and the problem is actually a built-in feature called “Auto-Answer Calls”. To disable this feature, you need to go to the Watch menu and turn off Auto-Answer Calls.
While Apple’s assistive technologies are designed to help people with disabilities, many users with normal physical conditions can benefit from the convenience of this iPhone feature. Auto-Answer Calls lets you easily answer calls hands-free when your hands are busy or your eyes are closed, and it works for more than just cellular phone calls. Sign up to receive our FREE Master Your iPhone in One Minute a Day tip newsletter, and we’ll send you an email each day with a helpful tip for making the most of your iPhone.