iPhone: Visual speed dial is a nice idea, but when you have to launch a separate app to make a phone call, it's a little annoying. Here are two ways to add visual speed dial to your home screen.
There's an app called Custom Dial 6 ($1.19) that lets you add six custom speed dial icons to your iPhone home screen. There's also a free version that lets you add just one. This is kind of limiting, plus there are some bugs — both things they intend to fix in a free update — so I figured there must be a way anyone can just do this themselves with a little light coding. That happens to be the case.
While the video up top will walk you through the process, but here are the basic steps:
- Download these files to start you off. You'll find two documents: html_prep.html and autodial.php.
- The HTML Prep document is basically just a very, very simple HTML page with a photo and a link. You'll want to make a PHP page with this HTML code in it. You can just copy and paste it into, say, your_friend.php and change the image to point to one of your friend and the link to go to your friend's phone number. The img tag works just like any HTML img tag, but the link tag is a bit different. Instead of http:// it's tel:// followed by the phone number of the person you want this speed dial icon to call.
- Once you have that page finished, upload it to your web server and open it on your iPhone. Test the phone link to make sure it works. If it does, zoom in on your friend's picture until it fills up the entire browser window. Then tap the + button at the bottom of the screen. That'll bring up your bookmark options. You want to tap "Add to Homescreen". Enter your friend's name and save. Mobile Safari will close and you'll see your friend's face and name pop up on your home screen.
- Right now this is just a link to a page with a phone number. We want to auto dial, right? Now you're going to want to replace the page you just made with some simple PHP code. You'll find that PHP code in autodial.php. Basically, you're just using the header() function to automatically go to the tel:// link. All you need to do is replace all the HTML code in the document you just made with the code in autodial.php (using your friend's phone number rather than 818-555-1234 of course).
It's kind of a roundabout way to make a home screen icon, but it's easy to change the phone numbers later and you can add as many as you want. Put them all in a folder and you've got some handy visual speed-dialling on your home screen.