Quick Tips to Save Time on the Phone

If you don’t have a Pixel phone, there’s the similar “Talk to a Live Representative” experiment from Google Research Labs. It is available in the Google app for iOS and Android; tap the laboratory flask icon in the top left corner to access Search Labs. “Talk to a Live Representative,” active through the end of 2024, lists the 1-800 numbers of several airlines and other companies and lets you request a call and call you back when the representative is there. It’s still experimental, however, and may not work consistently.

If you need to turn off the ringer but don’t want to miss an important call, use a visual or vibrating notification to alert you.

In iOS 17, go to the main Settings app to Accessibility, then Sound & Picture to LED Flash for Alerts. In Android 14, tap Settings, go to Notifications, and select Flash Notifications to access options for camera and screen flash alerts. You’ll see a touch of light or color when you receive a call.

Both Apple’s iOS software, left, and Google’s Android 14 system can visually alert you when a call comes in, though those sensitive to flashing lights should stick to vibrations to silently announce incoming calls,Credit…Apple; Google

People sensitive to flash should use the vibration alternative instead. In the Sound and Haptics settings on an iPhone, you can assign custom vibrations to callers. Android phones, including the Pixel and Galaxy models, have their own adjustable vibration options.

You’ll likely find even more useful tools in your phone’s settings once you start poking around. And starting this month, you can enjoy the irony of using 21st century software to support a method of communication that has been around for 148 years.