Google Prepping Automatic Screening to Root Out Unwanted Calls

Following other carriers that have rolled out apps and services aimed at protecting individuals from phone calls they do not want to receive, Google is prepping an update to its mobile phone operating system that would automatically screen calls from unknown numbers.

News of the update was uncovered in a beta release of Google’s Phone app. Along with being able to automatically screen calls, users would be able to automatically decline robocalls. Google will screen the calls and reject calls deemed to be robocalls without the user’s phone even ringing. A transcript of calls not deemed to be robocalls would be displayed on the user’s phone and the phone will ring a few seconds after the message is left.

The service is not yet available on phones using Google’s mobile phone operating service, but is expected to be released soon.

A growing number of carriers, phone manufacturers, and software developers are rolling out tools to try and keep robocalls from being connected. But the credit and collection industry has long expressed concerns that legitimate calls — like those from debt collectors — are being unfairly blocked as well. This report offers some direct proof of that dynamic. 

Google’s Dialer app is available on Pixel and some Motorola phones. The app currently can screen calls and Google Assistant can answer the call if a user does not recognize the number or if the number has been flagged as potentially being spam. But this process is currently manual, meaning users have to ask the system to screen the calls when the phone rings and read the live transcription to determine if the call is worth answering.

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