Google's Anti-Robocall Tech Close To Motorola, Nokia Devices

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Android One devices from Motorola and Nokia will likely receive Google's Call Screen feature soon. Since Google launched it late last year, the functionality was limited to Pixel smartphones. However, a Reddit user discovered several flags in the beta version of Google's Phone application for the Pixel 1 which suggests that the search giant will soon roll out its call screening feature to Nokia and Motorola smartphones sold in the United States. Since the two companies also release handsets that are part of Google's Android One initiative, it is possible that the handsets launched as part of the search giant's pure Android program, even from other manufacturers, may also get the Call Screen feature soon.

The Call Screen feature takes advantage of Google's artificial intelligence expertise and its personal assistant, the Google Assistant, to prevent spammers, scammers, and bots from disturbing users from their daily activities. Call Screen obtains valuable information like the identity of the caller and the purpose of the call, and the Phone app will provide a transcript of the caller's response even if the smartphone has no internet connection. Users may not need to pick up the handset to respond to the caller, and instead, they may choose among the prompts that Call Screen will suggest. This feature may also be useful when the person is in a meeting since one of the prompts provided by Call Screen informs the caller that the person is currently unavailable and will contact them later instead.

Scammers and robocalls are a major problem that government agencies and carriers in the United States are trying to resolve. The Federal Communications Commission estimates that within the next few years, robocalls will make up roughly half of all the calls that people will receive over the next few years. In response to these concerns, the government agency developed the STIR/SHAKEN standards, which are a set of policies that help verify and authenticate phone calls within the carrier's network. Among the steps that carriers undertake to reduce robocalls is the introduction of a call filter feature, which ensures that the phone numbers displayed on caller IDs are not spoofed. However, carriers limit some of the features offered by call filters behind a paywall, although its free version already provides many of the functionalities needed to protect users from spammers, which include blocking robocalls and pushing basic spam detection alerts. Nonetheless, there are cases that spammers slip through the filters, like what happened to the chief executive officer of AT&T while on stage at Washington DC.

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While it took several months before Google rolled out the feature to handsets outside of the Pixel family, it is not surprising that Android One devices will (likely) be the first smartphones to receive it, given that these devices already get software upgrades earlier compared to others. The lack of software customizations on top of stock Android should have reduced the amount of work needed for the search giant and its partners in developing and testing the feature for non-Pixel devices.

However, even though Google may soon distribute the feature to more handsets, this functionality only works in the United States and Canada, and it seems that the only language that it supports at this point is English. This restriction severely limits the usefulness of the feature, and it is not clear if there are plans to expand the availability of Call Screen to other regions or languages.

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