Pixel 8 could debut improved AI-based Call Screen spam protection from Google

Pixel 8 could debut improved AI-based Call Screen spam protection from Google
The upcoming Pixel 8, not due to be released until October of this year, could feature a new Call Screen that uses AI to stop spam calls from ringing through. The latest episode of the Made by Google podcast (via 9to5Google) includes Jonathan Eccles, the Group Product Manager for the Phone by Google app. Eccles, who oversees "the Dialer team," says that Google wants to figure out a better way to keep unwanted phone calls, including spam and robocalls, from ringing a user's phone.

Eccles says that the goal of his team is to make sure that "basic calling feels amazing" as the team takes the calling experience "beyond what anyone thinks is possible" to protect users or make them more productive. He also wants a future where phone owners don't have a Pavlovian reaction that raises their anxiety levels whenever their phone rings.

Google is working on stopping unwanted calls by using conversational AI

The Googler says that he wants a "future where you should never ever, ever be annoyed at the thought of your phone ringing. It should always be a moment where you assume it’s something important or something delightful. Nothing should ever bother you. And at the same time, you should never ever feel like you’re ineffective or unproductive on any phone call."

Eccles says that Google is looking at the use of AI to make business calls more productive, personal calls more delightful, and to eliminate spam calls so that they are no longer are a problem. Discussing the latter, Jonathan says that you don't stop at having Machine Learning used to block calls from certain numbers. He said that Google wants to add an extra layer between Pixel users and unwanted phone calls.

As for the spam problem, Eccles states, "What I see looking forward is a place where this (unwanted spam calls) is solved forever and I think it's possible. I think it's possible sooner than a lot of people think." He discusses the manual Call Screen feature which uses Google Assistant to find out what unknown callers want so you can make an educated decision about picking up a call. Automatic Call Screening allows the phone to pick up and disconnect a suspicious call without the user knowing about it when the call is received.

The head of the Dialer team says that conversational AI could take Call Screen to the next level. While Eccles didn't say when Pixel users could expect conversational AI to keep spam calls away, it makes sense for it to debut on the upcoming Pixel 8 line which presumably would have the advantage of being powered by the Google Tensor 3 chipset.

Googler hints that something new to combat unwanted calls will be released this year

Besides combating unwanted calls, Jonathan also brought up the Clear Calling feature that eliminates certain background noises to make a conversation easier to hear. He says that the Tensor 2 chip's processing capabilities are required for the feature which is why it isn't available on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro since the latter two handsets are powered by the first-generation Tensor chip.

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He also discusses a couple of useful features including Direct My Call and Hold for Me. The former shows you what phone tree options are available when a business is called even before the automated tape starts playing. Tapping on one of the options will direct your call to that department. And Hold For Me allows users to have Google Assistant take over the boring chore of holding on a call and alerts users when a real person is back on the other end of the call.

Eccles adds that he is excited by the future possibilities of using AI to create an additional layer of protection "at the front of every call." And if you're a Pixel user, you might be very interested to hear that some of the Dialer team's work will be outed later this year. He says, "Stay tuned. This year there will be things coming up in the world of solving unwanted calls that I think will be very exciting." And that leads us to the Pixel 8 line.

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