Dangerous Voiceover setting

iOS & iPadOS

Hi everyone!
I usually avoid alarmist subject lines, but I believe this one to be fully justified.
Today I activated the Voiceover setting that automatically switches a call to speakers if the iPhone is removed from your ear. Then, while listening to some music at high volume over the iPhone's speakers, I received a phone call. A few minutes into the call, my iPhone switched to the lock screen, which for some reason triggered the automatic switching to speakers. As a result, the sound of the call blurted into my ear at almost full blast. To be fair, I can detect no immediate damage to my hearing after the incident, but it sure was very uncomfortable. I like to trust my device to be safe for daily use, and that trust, for me, has been temporarily violated.
The workaround, of course, is not to use the aforementioned setting.
Cheers Perry



Submitted by Justin on Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hi Perry,
I've had this happen before. It's annoying, I know, but what I'd do is set the auto lock setting in general to never, or turn off, don't remember witch.

Submitted by Perry Simm on Thursday, May 10, 2018

... but still. Annoyances are one thing. Creating something potentially unsafe is quite another. This should be addressed not as a matter of preference but as one of safety, on the same severity level as batteries overheating.
Thanks for the additional workaround! Will try it out. Are you sure it's this way around? I mean, does locking trigger the switching, or could it be that the sensor tells the phone it's been removed from the ear, and only then does it lock?
Cheers Perry

Submitted by Ekaj on Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thank you for sharing this. I just got my first iPhone, and later today I've got my second tutoring session at Second Sense here in Chicago. I learned about the setting that automatically transfers a call to speakerphone once you take the phone away from your ear, and I think I now know how to toggle this setting. But I'll definitely mention this at today's session. I must admit I kinda like that setting, but you have a good point here about the volume and also good workaround. I'm very pleased thus far though with my iPhone.

Submitted by Blinken223 on Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hi Perry, quick question, have you been able to reproduce this successfully? If so, then it may be a good idea to let Apple know about this, that way if there is a bug, they could correct it. I've tried myself to reproduce it on my 8 Plus but have been unsuccessful. I'll have to try it again later, perhaps I did it incorrectly or I missed something.

I know that I've experienced some odd random glitches from time to time with this switching between speaker and handset. It doesn't happen often, but it does at times. This is a small computer as well, and we all know how computers can act up for no apparent reason. I've been on a call on the handset and for some odd reason, the phone switches it to speaker. Don't know why it switched, but for that particular moment, the phone decided to switch. Sometimes it could probably be the sensor that is fooled into thinking it's no longer near your ear, and at other times, my ear may have been a little too far from the phone, causing it to switch to the speaker. Like I said, these are computers and computers do at times act up. That's why I often times reboot my phone every day or so.

Like I said though, if this bug can be reproduced, then we should contact Apple and let them know. Just a thought!

Submitted by Jeff on Thursday, May 10, 2018

I thought an incoming call was supposed to pause music playback. Is that not the case?

The 2-finger double tap is used to toggle music playback and also to answer/hang up from a call. So what takes priority?

For the record, I really like the feature that automatically switches to speaker. I use this feature on most calls because I don't like holding my phone up to my ear for long periods. But I don't listen to music without headphones -- the quality of the iPhone speaker is just not good enough to suit me, so I never encounter this problem.

Submitted by Blinken223 on Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hi Jeff, from the user's description, they were listening to music through the phone's speaker and an incoming call came in, which stopped the music playback, they answered and placed the phone to their ear to start speaking. After a few minutes, their phone auto-locked and when it did, the call audio switched to the phone's speaker, and being that they had their music really loud, the audio from the call was loud as well and blasted in their ear.

I understand that that can be Frustrating as I have had that happen to me before, but not often. Not sure if his phone locking is what caused the audio from the call to switch from the handset to the phone's speaker. At least that is how I understood it.

Submitted by Blinken223 on Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hi Perry, I was thinking about this, could you have possibly accidentally pressed the sleep/wake button or do you have the auto-lock feature enabled? I am trying to see if I could reproduce the glitch.

Like I said, it sounds like you may have just experienced a random confusion of the sensor. It happens to me from time to time and I have mentioned this to Apple, but I just jotted this down as a odd random glitch that occurs from a computer. If this was happening all the time, then this would be a serious matter, but if it happens every so often, then it could just be a random glitch.

I am sorry though to hear what you experienced. I too find it annoying when this things like that happen. Let's just say that it does indeed wake you up when it does.

Actually, on a similar note, I typically would have my phone ringer set to 100% and disable the volume buttons from changing the ringer volume. After a bad experience yesterday, I've changed the ringer volume to 50% as I find that when you are distracted and that phone has a loud alert, it scares me the heck out. Here in Canada, we've begug implementting a Wireless Publuc Alert system, which I know that the U.S. already has something similar, and knowing when they were going to do the test for our province, got distracted with work and forgot to place my phone on silent. Well, when that alert kicked in at full volume, I nearly jumped out of my seat and was nearly hanging off the ceiling like Garfield use to do when Odie would come in barking. So I can surely sympathize. Hope you are doing better and that there was no damage to your hearing.

Submitted by themusicman08 on Thursday, May 10, 2018

I have an iPhone 6 unit and I've never had this happen to me at all. I've had the phone at full volume and I even tried to reproduce the bug your speaking about. All works well here. By the way, for those reading this post, I wouldn't set the locking feature to never. It drains the battery a lot faster then you'd like.

Submitted by Justin on Thursday, May 10, 2018

That might be true, but I don't like my devices locking on me at all. I'd rather control when they lock. Plus, I never forget to lock my device when it's not in use anyway, so don't notice a drain on my end.

Submitted by Justin on Thursday, May 10, 2018

Anyway, back to original. I've seen this happening on my end on the iPhone X. it's something with the proximity sensor by the earpiece. I've definitely seen this on older devices, as before this one I had the 6S plus, and it happened there also.

Submitted by Jeff on Friday, May 11, 2018

My confusion was not over the description of the original problem, but I'm unsure about what the 2-finger double tap does if music continues to play during a phone call. Does it pause music playback or does it hang up the call? As I said, I've never encountered this problem, so I don't know what is expected or what actually happens. Put another way, how would one pause music playback during a phone call?

Regarding autolock, I agree with Justin: You can't assume that not automatically locking your phone will cause excessive battery drain. For me, locking my phone when I'm done using it has become muscle memory. I always lock it before the autolock would do it anyway, so having autolock enabled isn't necessary for me and it just becomes a nuisance rather than a benefit.

Submitted by Jordan on Friday, May 11, 2018

So, here is the way I work around this issue. Just take the phone away from your ear, and then put it back on your ear. So far, that does do the trick for me.

Submitted by Cliff on Friday, May 11, 2018

audio playback whenI've never had this exact thing happen to me before, but I've encountered a bug that might be related.
I have listened to music or other audio when I've suddenly had an incoming call. Then double tapping with two fingers sometimes has answered the call, but not paused the audio playback at the same time. So I've had the person in the phone and music playing through the earpiece at the same time. If I then take the phone away from my ear and try to double tap with two fingers again to stop the audio playback, I instead hang up. Very frustrating bug.
Only workaround in those situations, is to tell the person to hang on, while opening the app switcher and finding the app that plays audio and shutting it down there.
Doesn't seem like this is what happened in this example, but it just shows that double tapping with two fingers during audio playback when one at the same time gets a phone call, can be buggy at times.

Submitted by Dominique Stansberry on Friday, May 11, 2018

In reply to by Jeff

Hello Jeff, you wrote:
"My confusion was not over the description of the original problem, but I'm unsure about what the 2-finger double tap does if music continues to play during a phone call. Does it pause music playback or does it hang up the call? As I said, I've never encountered this problem, so I don't know what is expected or what actually happens. Put another way, how would one pause music playback during a phone call?"
yes it pauses any media playing at the time. If your in Safari and are playing media in the browser it'll pause that, or in any app like Netflix. Once the call is over media playback will resume again after.
I'm actually on the iPhone 8 and have that problem too but what I do is turn the volume down as soon as it does, remove my ear from the ear piece, because I hear the speaker active for one... then put my hand close to the phone so the sensor will activate again then can then put my ear back to the phone's ear piece again.

Submitted by Brooke on Friday, May 11, 2018

While I'm not sure I'd say it's dangerous, I've had this happpen to me several times, and it's unpleasant. I've started disabling the feature and only enabling it when I know I absolutely need it.