Pixel Call Screen: Your Revenge Against Spam Calls

Are you getting nervous about answering calls on your mobile phones?  You should be.   Projections are that in 2019,  half of all incoming mobile calls are expected to be spam/scam calls.    The lackluster and largely unenforceable Do-Not-Call national registry has proven to be a failure.   But Google has just released a new app for all of its Pixel devices and it is a telemarketer slayer.

Google’s unique new Call Screen feature is an extraordinary real-time voice messaging/answering service powered by artificial intelligence.  It is also telemarketers’ and bill collectors’ deservedly worst nightmare.   It allows real-time screening of all inbound calls and, if you suspect it is a spam call, you can immediately designate the caller as a spammer.   Looking down the road, as this service is more widely used, Google may be able to create a killer database of scam callers that could be turned over to enforcement authorities.   Indulge our fantasy, please.

What is Call Screen?

The Call Screen app is built into the Pixel devices’ Google Phone app as a default option.  More importantly, the screening skills are actually built into your phone so no third-party app is collecting information about the call.  It integrates with Google Assistant to screen your call, and ask who’s calling and why.  Using Google’s increasingly accurate dictation skills, it also offers a real-time transcript of how the caller responds.  The caller will be asked questions dictated solely by the person receiving the call.

How it Works

Any incoming call to your phone will displace a “Call Screen” button.  If you don’t recognize the number, you can click the button.Your Google Assistant will tell the caller something like “Hi, the person you’re calling is using a screening service from Google, and will get a copy of this conversation. Go ahead and say your name, and why you are calling.”  The caller’s response will then be transcribed in real-time and displayed on your screen.

The called party (you) control over what questions are asked of the caller.  Some of the options available to you currently are:

  • ​​Is it urgent?– “Do you need to get a hold of them urgently?”
  • Tell Me More – “ Just so it’s clear, go ahead and say more about why you’re calling”
  • Report as spam – “Please remove this number from your mailing and contact list. Thanks, and goodbye.”
  • I’ll call you back – “They can’t talk right now, but they’ll give you a call later. Thanks, and goodbye.”
  • I can’t understand– “It’s difficult to understand you at the moment. Could you repeat what you just said?”

The call transcripts are stored only on your device in the call log.  Because Google is sensitive to consumers’ privacy, the app doesn’t save call audio or transcripts to your Google Account, your Google Assistant Activity page, or Web & App Activity.

If you want to review the transcript, open the Phone app, click on Recents.  Choose the call that you want to review and click on Call Details.  See transcript will appear as an option just below Incoming Call.   Google gives you the anonymous option to rate the accuracy of the call transcript.   To delete the transcript you must delete the whole call log entry for the number.

Google claims that Call Screen is on-device, meaning it doesn’t use Wi-Fi or your mobile data. Instead, it relies upon software and processing power on your device. That way, it keeps the conversation private – between you and the caller.  No one else.

Call Blocking

Call Screen provides you with the option of designating a call as “spam”.   Once tagged as spam, if you ever get a call from that number again, it will come with a big red interface reminding you that you’ve previously pegged the number as suspicious.  While Call Screen can’t remove your phone number from telemarketers’ lists (yet), it does the next-best thing.  As this technology becomes more widespread, telemarketers may have to fold up their tents.  Well, we can always hope.

Availability

Call Screen is currently available to English speakers in the United States who have Pixel 2, 2 XL, 3, or 3XL devices.  Also the Google Phone app on your device must be Version 24 or higher.

An important note:  Call Screen doesn’t play well with third-party call recording and screen recording apps. These apps may interfere with how the feature works.  If you plan on using this feature, best to remove or deactivate such apps on your phone.

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