CallBar review [iPhone]
We review the jailbreak app CallBar, which makes sure you’re never interrupted by an incoming call again
Everyone knows you have to jailbreak your iPhone if you want to start customising its operating system and interface. But even then there are very few apps that drastically alter a core function of the device. We add tweaks and shortcuts and nicer graphics, but the iPhone's beautiful user interface design means there's little opportunity for drastic, functional improvements.
However, CallBar is one of those rare, iOS-changing apps that offers a whole new way to use a core feature. And they don't get much more core than the Phone app.
This jailbreak application does away with the usual phone app, which dominates the screen - no matter what you're doing - when someone decides to give you a bell. Instead, your current app remains in full use, and a thin bar appears at the top of the screen to let you know a communication is coming in.
This bar displays the caller ID, just the same as any mobile phone does, and gives you the option to answer the call with a single tap. You can also reject the call, leave it ringing or move the call bar out of the way, also with a single tap. The app you're using, whether it's an email, Safari web browser, game or messaging is unimportant. The call bar pops over the top but doesn't limit your use of the current foreground application.
Should you be furiously tapping the screen and accidentally dismiss a call, all is not lost. Clearly the devs have considered this likelihood, and a rejected call actually keeps ringing, silently, out of the way. Tap the minimised bar that appears with an incoming call dismissal and you can make your choice again.
Once you answer, CallBar continues to work by allowing you to turn on the speaker phone and talk while still using whichever app was running when the call came in. This also goes for other types of communications interruptions, with Skype, Viber and FaceTime calls having recently been added to CallBar's compatibility roster.
For those who get a particular kick from the customisation offered by jailbreaking, CallBar is even skinnable, so you can create your own graphics for the app or download add-ons created by other members of the jailbreak community to give your incoming calls an even more independent style.
While it's perfectly fair to say that the native phone app isn't a massive nuisance, especially now that most apps support backgrounding, seeing CallBar in action forces you to realise that Apple has missed yet another trick.
The sleek design and operation of this app recognises the fact that iPhones are used for a hell of a lot more than just phone calls. Just like the act of jailbreaking itself, CallBar is built around the notion that your hardware should be used the way you want to use it. If that means not having an app disappear into the background when another app - being the Phone - is activated by a third party.
This should be part of iOS, and that's all there is to it.