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Google Pixel's call screening is about to get way better

(Image credit: Future)

Call Screen is one of our favorite exclusive features on Google's phones. While it's not a panacea for robocalls, it does let you find out who — or what — is on the other end of the line, without requiring you to pick up the phone.

It turns out Call Screen may have just been the start. Google is prepping a new automatic screening system for its Pixel handsets, based on contents unearthed in a tear down of the latest Phone APK by XDA Developers.

Here's how the system works: If the caller's number matches one in Google's spam database, the Google Assistant will answer the call, much like it already does when you initiate Call Screen manually. If the assistant detects a robocaller on the other side, it will end things there; if it doesn't, your phone will ring shortly thereafter. In both cases, a transcript of the conversation will be saved.

(Image credit: XDA Developers)

Of course, you don't have to use automatic call screening if you don't wish to — it's all optional, and you can even set it up so that your phone rejects calls from numbers in Google's database automatically, bypassing the whole automated screening process entirely.

But even if you do let Google decide what is and isn't spam for you, you can still get pretty granular with the responses. Perhaps you'd like the Assistant to handle private and hidden numbers, but not all first-time callers. You're free to pick and choose how you want the Assistant to react in different scenarios. Or, you could skip the automated aspect entirely and continue using Call Screen as you might already do, by manually triggering it when your phone rings.

We don't know precisely when Google intends to send this feature live. That said, the fact it is already present in version 42 of the Phone app, which is available to the public now, indicates it's nearing release. 

We suspect you'll need a Pixel device — be it the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, the inexpensive Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, or one of the older models — to be able to use this beefed up call screening feature.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.