It’s probably safe to say that most people don’t put much thought into the dialer app on their phones. Open it up, punch in a number and dial away — pretty straightforward, right?
Given the relative simplicity of the app, it’s kind of surprising to learn that Google has been quietly working on a Dialer app for a number of years now. So just what does Google think they can improve? As it turns out, Google has been trying to do eliminate a modern annoyance that virtually everyone with a phone has had to learn to live with: automated telemarketing.
Whether you call them robocalls, autodialers or spam calls, automated telemarketing calls have increased sharply in the past few years. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 375,000 complaints were lodged every month of 2017. Compare that to the 65,000 per month they received back in 2009, and its no surprise Google is trying to alleviate the problem.
What Does the Google Phone App Do?
Google stepped up its fight against automated telemarketing calls back in 2016. This is when the Google Phone app started warning the use of suspected robocalls by turning the screen bright red and listing the caller as “Suspected Spam Call.” Unfortunately, the call still came through, and users had to decide whether to answer or not.
In the updated version of the app, you won’t even be notified that the call came through at all. No ringing, no bright red screen, no notification. Almost like the call didn’t come through at all. Instead, Google Phone will filter any suspected robocalls straight to voicemail. Of course, you’ll still be able to review all the calls that come through via your call history. Additionally, if the spam caller leaves a voicemail, it will still be recorded to your voicemail bank.
How to Install the Google Phone App
The Google Phone App comes as the default dialer on the Pixel, the Nexus and Android One devices. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the app has not been made available to the general public. That being said, it is possible to get the Google Phone App on your device. To do so, you’ll need to become a beta tester of the app.
Be aware that since the updated version of the Google Phone app is still in beta, there’s a good chance there will be a few bugs that still need to be ironed out. Furthermore, the app is not compatible with all devices at this time. If you are not able to download the app due to your device being flagged as “not compatible.” you can email the Google Phone development team for support.
How to Turn on the Robocall Filter
Once the Google Phone app is installed, you’ll still need to manually turn on the spam filter. To do so, simply head to “Settings -> Caller ID & spam.” Here you’ll want to flick the toggle switch next to “Filter suspected spam calls” to the ON position.
Be aware that robocalling techniques are getting more and more sophisticated. Unfortunately, this means that the Google Phone app won’t necessarily catch every single telemarketing call that comes through. For instance, it has been reported that robocalls that utilize “neighborhood spoofing” usually get through. This is when the robocall originates from a number with the same area code as your own.
What to Do If You Can’t Install Google Phone
Unfortunately, Google Phone is not available for every Android device out there. If you find that your device is not compatible with the app, don’t fret. The inability to install Google Phone doesn’t mean that you’re destined for annoying robocalls. There are a number of apps that can stop robocalls, and many of them are free like Hiya and Mr. Number. Additionally, many of the cell phone providers in the United States offer apps specifically for phones that use their networks, so check with your carrier.
Finally, if you haven’t done so already, add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s free and you can do it online, so there’s really no excuse not to. It won’t stop all of the telemarketing calls, but it helps. Furthermore, you can always file a complaint with the FCC for those robocalls you can’t seem to shake.
Have you installed Google Phone? How do you avoid telemarketers and robocalls? Let us know in the comments!