Technical Writer Till the Day I Die
I’ll admit it – after I bought my new Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, I had to search my own site for “can’t answer incoming calls android.” I figured out the answer, once – back when I had my Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and updated to Android 9 with OneUI.
And I guess I just assumed they would have fixed this by now, but of course not.
It’s no secret that I spent the better part of my career as a senior technical writer. “Information Architect,” if you prefer late 1990s euphemisms, but I prefer things that emphasize the “writing” part of the job. I didn’t so much build data as untangle it and make sense of it.
It’s also no secret that I like to play with SEO. And I do mean “play” – I have not made a serious study of it, nor read the blog posts of others who have made a serious study of it, and I have in fact turned off readers here by even joking about it openly (mea culpa, I apologize for the “meta blogging,” but you know I’m weirdly competitive and I do love a silly challenge). I like to think that my own writing is as scattered and niche-less as my search engine queries. But that’s not what you want, is it?
No – to be precise, it’s what one family member, eleven friends and six random spammers who’ve kindly bothered to subscribe to this blog tolerate, while the rest of the visits come through direct links or “organic search” to older incarnations of this blog by way of the following queries:
Without further ado, let’s just answer the question…
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (Android 9)
Can’t Answer Incoming Call from Lock Screen After Android 9 Update?
This is the original post. If this doesn’t work for you, or you have a newer phone or Android version, skip to the next section.
Sometimes, you just need your mobile phone to act like a phone. After a recent update to the Android operating system – Android 9, July 1 security patch – on my Samsung Galaxy Note 9, I was unable to answer a phone call from the lock screen. I could press the call answer or hang up icons, and could see that the touchscreen was registering my touch by the expanding glow around each icon as I tapped or pressed it, but nothing else would happen! Also, I could not dismiss the incoming call screen, nor could I unlock the phone until the caller hung up.
My phone was possessed! I could answer calls normally if they came in while I was playing with another app on my phone. I could unlock my phone if there was no incoming call in the way. But if a call came in while the phone was sitting, idle, on a table or in my purse or pocket, I would miss it. I was about to do a factory reset – the only way to squash virtual gremlins with 99.8% certainty, but then that’s hours of reinstalling apps and files from backups and I wasn’t in the mood. Then, while waiting on @TmobileHelp (the best support staff EVER) to figure out what on earth might be going on, I found two threads on Android Central:
- First clue – others can’t answer calls from lock screen after updates
- Second clue – it may be an accessibility “feature”
I am not sure whether this problem is unique to the OneUI overlay Samsung introduced, but something changed with the last update – even if you figured out that you needed to enable one of the accessibility features to make it easier to answer calls, you may have disabled what is now crucial to this feature continuing to work correctly, so read on!
How to Fix the Problem: Enable Assistant menu > Single tap to swipe
You’ll need to enable the Assistant menu. It’s not enough to have enabled it and turned on the Single tap to swipe feature, then turned it back off. You now need to leave it on, but you can still banish the menu after turning the feature on.
- Go to Settings > Accessibility > Interaction and dexterity > Assistant menu
NOTE: On Samsung Galaxy Note 9, a long press on Accessibility takes you to Interaction and Dexterity. Likewise, a long press on Interaction and dexterity takes you to the third screen, below. Slide the switch to enable Assistant menu as shown.
- Long press on Assistant menu, after enabling it.
- Enable Single tap to swipe.
- To lose the floating Assistant menu (the circle with four squares, shown below) without turning the feature off, go to the Home screen then press and hold the icon until an X appears at the top or bottom of your screen (hard to screenshot this one, so just watch for it), and drag the Assistant menu icon to it and drop it on the X.
I hope this saves you some frustration, if you’ve come here searching for a solution to “why my phone locks up when I get a call” or “why I can’t answer a call from the lock screen.”
Samsung Galaxy Note 20
How to Answer Calls on Android with Just a Tap (or, Google, if I’d wanted a @#$%ing iPhone, I’d have bought a @#$%ing iPhone!)
1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Interaction and dexterity.
2. Toggle on the Assistant menu.
3. Toggle on Single tap to swipe.
To get the floating menu out of your way, you can no longer drop it onto a big red X on the home screen and make it disappear. You must turn it on and leave it lurking there. But you can make it unobtrusive and harder to open accidentally. Toggle on Show as edge icon and that will move it off to the curved side of the screen. You can reposition it by dragging it right or left and up and down. I now have it on the upper right corner – a portion of the screen I rarely have to touch, so it doesn’t pop open while I’m trying to do other things. You could make it invisible, but then you couldn’t see where it’s lurking, and that’s kind of creepy.
You can also set the physical Volume up or Side key to answer calls. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Interaction and dexterity > Answering and ending calls.
Don’t ask me why you can’t customize this to use the Volume down key, three finger-taps and a nose bang, or a Judge-Judy eye-roll (the device has biometric options, right?).
Be sure to test it – have a friend phone you to make sure you’ve got your settings working the way you want them to work.
Now, Back to the Blog…
It’s depressing. Is this all I am to you – a technical writer who can tell you, when Samsung won’t, how to answer a phone? Why not read some fiction:
- Red Paint
- Dessert for Breakfast
- Bullfrog and Bullfeathers
- Meet Me Halfway
- A Fairy Tale for Writers: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
- A Fairy Tale for Writers: Flight of the Bumbling Writer
- A Fairy Tale for Writers: Maybe Nana Doesn’t Need to Know
- So Tolls the Bell on 2020
- Genre – #AtoZChallenge
- Two Armadillos’ Strife
- Social Compost (an Abecedarian Poem) #AtoZChallenge
- Broken Things – #AtoZChallenge
- Speak Truth (Cinq Cinquains) – #AtoZChallenge
- Movement: Mind and Soul