iOS 7's best kept secret: Blocking calls and texts

By Michael Mayday , Jun 12, 2013 07:25 PM EDT

Apple has integrated a new call blocking feature into iOS 7, and it allows users to block any calls from telemarketers to annoying exes. Apple may not have made it one of their premier features during Monday's keynote speech at WWDC 2013, but that doesn't it's any less important.

That's right. Apple users can now mark callers and phone numbers as spam forever, keeping those pesky callers at bay.

The feature allows users to manage who can contact them over the phone, through FaceTime and through Messages.

And being able to block spam messages and calls isn't just convenient, it also doubles as a potential security feature. Some Android devices, for example, can be infected with malware through malicious spam SMS messages. While such a virus hasn't appeared yet on Apple's iOS system, it may not be long before one does.

"While I am relieved, and excited, to see how Apple addresses this, I'm also concerned," Max Eddy said in a post for SecurityWatch. "In general, Apple is often slow to add new features and prefers to patch vulnerabilities rather than quickly addressing fundamental security issues-like the inability to block numbers. If Apple doesn't get it right out-of-the-box, it could be a long time before they introduce something better."

Call blocking isn't new. Android users have had the ability to block certain numbers for some time, but Apple's approach cooks this blocking ability directly into its OS, rather than having to depend on third-party software to fill the gap.

With Android, users can turn to applications like Mr. Number to block and regulate specific phone numbers or entire area codes to voicemail or the hangup tone. According to VentureBeat, Mr. Number has over 7 million downloads. The application allows users to block calls and texts and identify unknown numbers. Users can identify a number as a spammer and block it. Mr Number, according to TechCrunch, was recently acquired by WhitePages for integration.

iOS jailbreakers, too have had the ability to block calls, provided they download the right application, like RingerX VIP, though jailbreaking does violate Apple warranty.

How Apple's version of call blocking will work remains to be seen, but even putting a modicum of control over who's allowed to call an owner back into the hands of consumers is a good start.

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