Tired of spam calls: Google is testing a feature that will let you know why a business is calling
Updated: Jun 27, 2020
We’re all fed up with all-too-frequent spam and fraud calls that make us almost afraid to answer the phone. Even (or especially) when an unfamiliar local number shows up on Caller ID.
Google is testing a “Verified Calls” feature in its Phone app that may help you decide whether to answer some calls—or not. The feature verifies the name of the business that is calling, displays the company’s logo, and shows the reason for the call (“scheduling your internet installation” or “your food delivery.”)
Before you get your hopes raised, however, be aware that Google is only piloting a test in Brazil. No word on when, or if, the feature will be coming to the U.S., much less which devices it might work on here if that's the case.
"As we're currently piloting this feature, we don't have specific information to share regarding general availability," a Google spokesperson emailed.
If Google goes ahead with the feature in the States, I would expect it to be made available on the company's current or future Pixel models, and possibly other Android smartphones.
I'm hoping Google does move forward, provided enough reputable businesses buy in, and user privacy is protected.
According to a Google support page outlining the feature, the business must verify its identify and the reason for calling you through a dedicated Google server. If businesses fail to meet certain criteria, none of the Verified Call information will be shown.
Google indicates that it will erase a user's number and the reason for the call minutes after the call has been made, with no call or activity data saved to the person's Google account.
A user can also opt-out, though apparently the feature is turned on on by default.
This isn’t Google’s first attempt to frustrate spammers. In 2018, the company unveiled a “Screen call” feature on Pixel 3 devices. Users of these devices, and subsequent Pixels, could tap a “Screen call” button that let the caller know through a greeting that they were using an automated screening service from Google and that you the person being called would get a copy of whatever they’re telling you in (more or less) real time.
In almost every instance in which I’ve tapped that Screen call button, the incoming caller has hung up.
Would you welcome the Verified calls feature and if available, would it influence any future phone purchases?