Single-tap Conference Dialing in iOS 4.3

Apple released iOS 4.3 a few days ago, and if you follow this topic at all, you have probably already heard all about the Personal Hotspot feature, AirPlay enhancements, and whatnot. But buried in the notes for this release was a new feature that caught my attention:

Single tap conference call dialing with a pause to send a passcode

I have found almost no mentions of this new feature online (most reviews focus on the “bigger” features), so I thought I’d explore it a little bit.

Warning: Unless you spend your days in conference calls (like me), you will probably be bored to tears by this. You’ve been warned.

First, a note about how I use my iPhone in this respect. I have a number of conference calls that I dial often. For these, I have created contacts that include the number to dial, followed by a long-enough pause (inserted through trial-and-error) and then any codes that have to be entered. For example, one such entry might look like this: “018001234567,,,987654#”. This gives already single-tap dialing of conference calls. This works for more complex cases. For example, for my own audioconference line, I need to dial the conference code, my moderator code, and a few other things. This entry looks something like this: “0018001234567,,89786756#,,*,,122334#,1”. This is very handy and it does everything except for speaking my name at the appropriate point in the sequence (it would be great if I could record it and play it back automatically at the correct moment).

So what does the new feature do? It adds a “wait” button in addition to the “pause” button:


When you press it, it appears as a semicolon, and the effect is that a button will appear after dialing the part before the semicolon, and a button will appear to dial the following parts. You can insert multiple waits in the number, and each press of the “dial” button will advance to the next part of the number:


So, is this useful? For me, for frequently-dialed conference lines, I prefer my current method, since I don’t need any manual intervention. However, I think this new feature can be useful to include extension numbers in contacts. This is something I had never figured how to do, and now I can include the extension number in the same contact following a wait.

Sadly, this new feature does nothing to make phone numbers included in meeting invitation clickable, so they could be dialed automatically. This would indeed be a welcome addition.