Pixel’s Spam-Blocking Call Screen Feature Is Rolling Out More Widely

Pixel’s Spam-Blocking Call Screen Feature Is Rolling Out More Widely
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

One of the Pixel lineup’s best features is Call Screen, which seamlessly roots out spam and other unwanted calls. Previously only available in U.S., Canada and Japan, the feature is now being quietly deployed in seven new markets — meaning that the global crusade against spam calls will soon gain some key allies.

The expansion was discretely announced in an Oct. 19 blog post by Jan Jedrzejowicz, the product manager for Google Voice, who says that Pixel’s Call Screen functionality will soon roll out to users in Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

Call Screen uses the Google Assistant as, well, an assistant, sending automated check-in messages to callers to figure out who they are and why they’re calling, and then compiling that information into a transcribed memo about the call that you can read at your convenience. According to Google, the feature already helps Pixel users in the U.S., Canada and Japan screen as many as 37 million unwanted calls each month.

Call Screen has two modes: a manual mode means that users will have to tap a “screen call” button when their phone rings in order to launch the Google Assistant, and an automatic setting which will get to work on your behalf without being asked to do so whenever an incoming call is from a number not listed in your contacts threatens to disrupt your day. Crucially, it’s only the manual mode that’s expanding into seven new markets (U.S.-based users, for reference, have had access to the automatic version of the feature since 2019).

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro debuted with several other key improvements to Google Assistant, including Direct My Call, which uses Google’s Duplex speech recognition and language understanding technology to transcribe automated call menu options like “Press 1 for X” onto your screen, and Wait Times, which can help you plan your calls to toll-free business numbers ahead of time by projected the estimated hold times you’ll face for the rest of the week. Those features are exclusive to Google’s latest flagships, and are also only available in the U.S. — for now.