Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Use Emergency Bypass to Circumvent Do Not Disturb

Josh Centers and Adam Engst:

What’s the difference between Allow Calls From and Emergency Bypass? In essence, you can use Emergency Bypass to allow both calls and text messages. However, it’s not as straightforward as Allow Calls From. There’s no mention of Emergency Bypass in the Do Not Disturb settings, you have to find and enable it for individual contacts, and you shouldn’t confuse it with the unrelated Emergency Contacts used for Medical ID notifications.


There is one potentially unexpected caveat. If your Mac is awake and running Messages, it will likely capture text messages before they’re sent to your iPhone. In most situations, that’s sensible—you don’t want text message notifications to make sounds on every Apple device you own if you’re actively using your Mac. Obviously, if you’re away from your Mac, it should be sleeping, but if that’s not true for some reason, it could prevent messages from arriving on your iPhone regardless of Emergency Bypass.


The only thing to keep in mind is that Emergency Bypass will cause your iPhone to make sounds even if Do Not Disturb is on and the ring/silent switch is enabled. That’s the point, of course, but there are situations where silence is essential—a recital, a play, a meditation class. In other words, if Emergency Bypass overrides Do Not Disturb, how can you override Emergency Bypass every so often? Editing individual contact cards is clearly too much work. We found two levels of workaround[…]

This seems so complicated. But, then, it’s also not so simple to describe how you want it to behave.

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I use it for specific contacts and it works well for text messages.
Some apps can also have the function enabled to send out urgent medical notifications.

I wish you could have a way to manually set it up for specific apps though: Some medical apps have a primary and a “follow” version. The medical alerts can be configured to bypass the Do Not Disturb settings for the primary app, but not for the “follow" app. If you absolutely MUST get notifications for the “follow” app, the only thing you can do is to disable Do Not Disturb (and then you get all sorts of ^@#%^@%$ notifications from contacts who live in different time zones :-< ).

There is a simple solution for "Do Not Disturb" during an event, concert, presentation etc:

If we can specify HOW LONG it should be in this mode, we'd be set. E.g, if I could say: Stay silent for 1 hour, because that's how long the meeting takes, then we'll not be disturbed but also won't forget to turn it off again at the end.

I believe Android offers this option, even?

Phones before Apple had lots of smart llittle features that Apple simply ignored and practically killed, that made them better, eg.:

- Ringing and alarm sounds gradually increase in volume (as a preference option)
- A clearly visible indicator on the screen telling you when the phone is in silent mode.
- Network carrier can display a custom icon (was useful with my o2 service that had a "home zone" when flat call fees were not a thing yet)
- Bluetooth comms so that I could have my Mac tell the phone (even if it's not from Apple) to make calls, and other nice features.
- A haptic keyboard that allowed me to type with fewer errors.

Well, the last one is debatable, the others not.

Also fucked up: I have the setting for default alarm time set to 30min on my phone. But when I enter a new event in the calendar and explicitly change the alarm time to 5 min, then, a few minutes later, it has added the 30min default back again. Such an annoyance.

If we can specify HOW LONG it should be in this mode, we’d be set. E.g, if I could say: Stay silent for 1 hour, because that’s how long the meeting takes, then we’ll not be disturbed but also won’t forget to turn it off again at the end.

I believe Android offers this option, even?

You can do 1 hour. On iOS, long-press on DnD in Control Center. On macOS, tap the arrow next to DnD in Control Center.

Seems to me like Calendar should have a toggle on events “set DnD during event”.

Hi Sören,
thanks for the comments. But which DnD icon do you mean in iOS? When looking at the Control Centre controls to add, there's only one with that name, but that's "Do not disturb while driving". That can't be what you mean, do you?

Huh, found it: It's the "half moon" icon - not the one I expected to hide this option behind. Hope I'll remember that. :)

I agree, the control for this is complicated in part because the specification of what I want is complicated.

For example, I have DND set to automatically work from 11-7. That's great, no idiotic app notices or other bings while I'm sleeping. But on the other hand, what if my kid or parents get in to trouble during that period, I want them to be able to get through to me if its an emergency (and they presumably would only call me at that hour if it was). OK, so I can exclude them from DND. But then what happens if I'm at a concert. I can't have it ringing then even in an emergency. So I need a way to distinguish the level of non-interrupting I need, and differentiating between automatic night time "I don't want to be disturbed", and "I'm in a concert and the phone really cannot make any noise".

It's complicated, and hard to see how even the best UI would work well even just for me, and other people are going to have different needs and priorities.

Kevin Schumacher

TIL about the DND options hidden under a long press in Control Center. I knew Apple Watch prompts you for how long DND should stay active, but I had no idea you could do the same from the phone. There have been many times I've turned DND on using iPhone only to think "oh, wait" and turn it right back off so I could make it a 1-hour duration using on the Watch.

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