How to make a conference call on your iPhone

Get to know a few more secrets

Apple has hidden a few useful surprises that you might like using when you make calls in your iPhone. C/O a.pasquier and Flickr.

If you need to speak to up to five people at once you can do so using the little-used merge calls iPhone feature – it’s been hiding in front of you ever since you first dialled a number on the device.

How to make a conference call on your iPhone

Have you ever looked at all the buttons that appear on the dialler when making a call and wondered what they mean? Today’s tip uses one of these, the ‘Add Call’ button. You can use it to add people into your original call. This is quite easy to accomplish and works with a GSM connection – it may not work if you are using Voice over LTE (VoLTE).

Here is how it is done:

  1. Make a call to the first person you want to speak with
  2. Once they pick up and the call begins, tap Add Call from the in-call menu
  3. The original call will be put on hold while you dial the second number
  4. (If you don’t see the in-call menu, tap the Hide Keypad item to get to the in-call screen)
  5. Once the second number picks up, you can tap Merge Calls to combine all your current calls into one.
  6. You can repeat this step until you have five people within one call.

[Also read: 6 iPhone phone call secrets you probably didn’t know]

Handling a conference call

Once you have put your conference call together you should see yourself as the conference administrator. This gives you some power over what happens during the call, meaning you can drop people from the call, talk privately with one person, or even add an incoming call to your conference.

Drop one person:

  • Tap the i button beside the person’s name and then tap End

Talk privately with one person:

  • Tap the i button beside the person’s name, then to Private to bitch about everyone else in the call. Tap Merge calls to return to the conference.

Add an incoming call:

  • Tap Hold Call + Answer, pick up the call and then tap Merge Calls.

Problems and solutions

It is important to note that the Add Call button will sometimes be inactive (greyed out) if your device is making its call over Wi-FI or LTE. It’s a GSM feature. If you are calling over Wi-Fi you may find the Add Call button activates if you disconnect from the Wi-Fi connection.

Alternative conferencing tools

You may need to use an alternative conference calling facility to make the call, particularly if your network does not support the feature on your iPhone. Fortunately there are multiple services available that support this:

Group Facetime:

Apple’s free Group FaceTime feature isn’t available at time of writing but is expected to appear with iOS 12.1 soon. The only problem using it is that all conference participants need to be on FaceTime.

Google Hangouts:

Easy to access and free, this supports up to 25 people on a video or audio conference call. The only problem is that you have to invite more Google into your life.

Skype:

A highly effective solution you may already have free access to within your Office 365 account, Skype lets you make voice conference calls with land- and mobile lines.

Uber Conference:

Free phone and VoIP audio for up to ten people. Also offers screen and document sharing.

Free Conference Call:

A service that claims to host up to 1,000 callers on demand. You can control the conference from your device.

Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

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