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Apple’s Phone App Finally Supports T9 Dialing in iOS 18


T9 dialing, or Text on 9 keys, is a predictive text technology that emerged in the late 90s to make it easier to type text messages on devices with limited input options, such as traditional mobile phones with numeric keypads. Each number key (2-9) on a T9 keypad is mapped to a set of letters. For example, the key “2” corresponds to “ABC,” “3” to “DEF,” and so on.


Android phones have had the feature for years, and in iOS 18 beta, Apple has finally added T9 dialing support to the Phone App. So now you can type a contact’s name using the number pad, and matching contacts will appear above the keypad.

When you press a key, T9 doesn’t just consider the individual letters that the key represents but predicts the most likely word you are trying to type. In the same way, ‌iOS 18‌ combines all possible letter combinations to filter results from your contacts. To bring up your Dad’s number, for example, you would tap 3-2-3 (D-A-D). Or if you have someone called Ben in your contacts, tapping 2-3-6 (B-E-N) should bring up their number.

The best match appears first above the keypad, and tapping the person’s name will call them. If there are several possible matches in your contacts, they can be revealed as a list by tapping “X more…” below the first match. Taken together, the new options should enable faster calling.

t9 phone dialing ios 18 keypadt9 phone dialing ios 18 keypad
In addition, when you type in a new number into the keypad in ‌iOS 18‌, it now gives you two options to add it to your contacts. In iOS 17, a single “Add number” option appears above the keypad, whereas in ‌iOS 18‌ there is a new button in the top-left corner that reveals “Create New Contact” and “Add to Existing Contact.”

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‌iOS 18‌ is currently in beta for Apple Developer Program members, with a public beta to follow in July. The update should be widely released in September.



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