According to research conducted by Asurion, the tech support and phone insurance firm, you open your phone about 80 times per day. And every so often, you reach for your phone, and… Whoops! You’re in the middle of a phone call, and the lucky person on the other end of the line just got treated to a whole load of (potentially juicy) conversation.
Yes, the pocket dial—or “butt dial,” as it was referred to in decades past—is among the more insidious, unfortunate pitfalls of modern life. (In fact, it recently happened to me, mid-date. The lucky recipient? My ex—whom I had very recently split from.) And with the ever-advancing march of smartphone functionality, pocket dialing encompasses more than just phone calls: pocket texting, pocket photographing, pocket Twitter-ing, pocket Siri-ing, and pocket banking. If you’re actor Mark Ruffalo, you accidentally pocket-streamed the audio of the first 20 minutes of Thor: Ragnarok from the movie’s premiere.
Thankfully, there’s a surefire way to ensure you never fire off another pocket dial—or any of its various iterations—again. And you don’t even need to download an app.
If you’re on Android—like 82 percent of the smartphone-owning population, according to figures from Gartner, the tech research agency—it’s a good bet you installed and turned on Smart Lock. The security app is built-in to any newly made Android devices, and setting it up is part of the whirlwind boot-up process. It essentially makes it so that your phone is automatically locked when it’s not around you—and keeps it unlocked when it is. As such, this can lead to unfortunate pocket dials. (Send chocolate and condolences to my ex.)
But, even if you inadvertently activated Smart Lock, know that it’s incredibly easy to turn off. First, open up your settings. Go to the Lock Screen and Security folder. Click on “secure lock settings.” At the bottom, you’ll find Smart Lock. Open it up. The first item, “On-body detection,” is likely the culprit behind the lion’s share of your pocket dials. Disable that function, and you’ll be all set.
For iOS users, the process is even easier. First, open up settings. Head to the Touch ID & Passcode folder. Scroll down until you see the field “allow access when locked,” which includes a whole host of lock-screen options—Siri, wallet, home control, return missed calls, and reply with message, among others—all of which are turned on by default. Disable those you don’t wish to ever happen from your pocket.
Also, finally—and this goes for smartphone users of all stripes—make sure you hit your phone’s lock button before you slip it back into your jeans. After all, it’s not rocket science. It’s pocket science.
Sadly, there’s only one way to protect yourself from being on the receiving end of a pocket dial: avoiding your phone altogether. To help you kick the impulse, and slash that aforementioned 80-times-daily in half, learn the 20 Genius Ways to Kill Time Without a Smartphone.
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