Pixel handsets will soon have the ability to automatically screen for robocalls

One of the biggest problems facing smartphone owners these days is getting bombarded by robocalls. Every time the phone rings, you might as well flip a coin; 50% of incoming calls are likely to be spam. Last year, Google introduced Call Screen on the Pixel handsets. When a Pixel user sees an incoming call from a number he/she doesn't know, pressing the "screen call" button on the screen will result in Google Assistant answering the call. The digital helper engages in a conversation with the caller while a real-time transcription of the call appears on the display. The user can jump into the call at any time.

It appears that Google is going to be improving the Call Screen feature. According to XDA, code found on version 42 of the Google Phone app, which just dropped in the Google Play Store this morning, reveals that Pixel users will get some new options. These include Automatically screen. Decline robocalls, Ring phone (default), and Silently decline the call.

If the Automatically screen and decline robocalls setting is on, Google Assistant will answer calls from an unknown number. Robocalls are declined and the Pixel owner won't even know that there was a call in the first place. If the number doesn't register as a robocall but is still not on the user's contacts list, the phone will ring and a transcript of the call will be saved. If a call cannot be screened (and is not on the contacts list), the user will be able to tap a button on the screen to activate Call Screen, which is what Pixel users can currently do to a call from an unknown number.

With the automatic call screening, Google Assistant warns the caller that it is recording the conversation. And users will be able to select which kind of calls will activate automatic screening. Options will include altered numbers, unknown numbers, numbers in Google's spam database and private or hidden numbers. And Pixel owners will be able to choose from two different Google Assistant voices to answer a call. When the phone is answered, Assistant will say, "Hi, the person you've reached is using a screening service from Google, and will get a transcript of this call. Go ahead and say why you're calling."

The feature has yet to show up on our Pixel 2 XL running Android 10 and with the latest version 42 Google Phone beta installed. Sure, you might find the Pixels lacking in hardware design, but when it comes to software-related features, Google's handsets can't be topped.

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