The truth is, there is no way covertly and personally answering a cell phone in a meeting will work. Even if you leave the room to talk to the person calling you, you will briefly disrupt the meeting. However, there are ways of dealing with incoming calls automatically, which will not disturb the meeting or yourself.
The following apps are designed for Windows Mobile phones.
XBLOCKR isn’t exactly automatic, as it does require your attention briefly. When you receive a call, you can choose from four different actions:
- Duck: The call will be disconnected and the caller may hear a default busy message provided by your service operator or be diverted to your default voice mail.
- Duck & SMS: In addition to disconnecting the call, an SMS (Busy, call later) will be sent to the caller.
- Drop: The call will be answered for a second and disconnected, which may sound like a network error to the caller.
- Divert: The call will be diverted to a third party number of your choice. This function requires the conference feature to be enabled with your operator.
An advanced version of XBLOCKER is available through its website. The download through Freeware Pocket PC (link above) is unlimited, while the XBLOCKER homepage only offers a 40 call trial version.
Now Mobile Secretary will take care of your calls without you noticing it, unless you want to. What you do is set up groups and assign your contacts to the groups. For each group you can create a custom ringtone and text message. So when you miss a call while in a meeting, the caller will receive your custom text message.
For example you could ask them to call again later or let them know that you will call them back as soon as you can. You can also forward incoming text messages to another phone number.
I also tested a very similar tool called iSecretary. It’s supposed to work as an answering machine that lets you set rules and record custom voice messages for different groups of contacts. Sadly, it proved to be a failure as callers never get to hear your custom messages. On my HTC Touch Pro the message was played through the phone rather than to the caller, regardless of settings.
The Call Firewall finally offers more options than the previous tools, but it’s also more difficult to set up. It provides the following features:
- accept all calls.
- accept calls from contact list only.
- reject all calls.
- accept only calls from numbers on white list.
- reject all calls from numbers on black list.
- reject all calls from a black listed number pattern, e.g. all calls with same area code.
- reply with SMS.
- call barring, i.e. restrict selected outgoing calls.
- add calls as appointment.
Are you still wondering whether answering a cell phone in a meeting is OK? Check out this article on Groundswell for guidelines. If you’re not expecting an emergency call, you should simply turn off the ringtone and vibration before you head into a meeting and forget about your phone until you have time to return calls.
What apps and tactics do you use for mobile phone calls when you are in a meeting?
Image Credit : mrceviz
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