According to a recent commit spotted in the Android Open Source Project code repositories, the version of the OS coming after Android Q could allow calls to be forwarded from one SIM to another at the system level. Summarily, that would allow handsets with Dual SIM hardware and operating with more than one of the SIM cards in place to push phone calls made to the inactive SIM onto the SIM that is activated. That would ensure that calls made to the inactive SIM aren't missed just because it isn't turned on to receive the calls.
Comments on the commit, for the time being, point to the addition of what is effectively a blank UI for the feature that appears when two SIM cards are inserted in a smartphone. Tests have been performed to ensure that works properly and that an appropriate UI also appears when a call has been forwarded.
The deeply integrated nature of the functionality increases the likelihood of the feature initially debuting on Google's own hardware, though it will obviously be a while before that scenario can happen; Android R isn't expected until next year and will most likely hit the stable channel shortly before the Pixel 5 series launches.
How could smart call forwarding work and who might benefit?
The biggest beneficiaries of a call forwarding feature such as that hinted at in the Android R-related commit would almost certainly be users in the enterprise or business end of the market. That's because the feature could feasibly allow a more customizable and individualized separation between business lines and personal numbers.
It could allow those users to more easily accept phone calls from friends, family, and associates when traveling internationally too. The travel phone number wouldn't need to be handed out to anybody and calls — and possibly messages as the feature becomes more filled-out — could simply be forwarded to the travel SIM. That may or may not result in undesirable long-distance charges depending on how forwarding is implemented but it would certainly be much more hassle-free and useful.
On the other side of the equation, users who hold multiple SIM cards, each with their own phone number but not necessarily intended for phone calls, would benefit too. If a phone number intended for text messaging or for data-only communications and uses receives a call, the gadget could be set up to automatically push that to the call-specified SIM.
For all devices or Pixel exclusive …if it ships at all
Android Q isn't even out yet, currently existing only as a part of a beta for developers and users to try out on select devices and only in its second iteration of six prior to its expected launch in October. That puts the still uncertain Android R — pending a decision from Google on its timeline for replacing Android with Fuchsia OS — out at least another year.
So this feature is a long way from being completed in anything resembling a consumer-ready product and it isn't necessarily any more likely that it will be finished than scrapped.
Simultaneously, there's a chance that Google might choose only to make the feature available on its own Pixel-branded handset instead of the entire ecosystem. Since there's no guarantee that carriers will want to allow forwarding, there's a further chance that it might only work for devices using either traditional or eSIM connections on the company's own Google Fi network.
Put simply, Android users and those who might consider switching to access the feature should probably hold off getting too excited just yet.