The phone app update, which is part of Google’s efforts to separate core phone features from operating system updates, is available for the company’s Nexus line of smartphones and Android One devices, including the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X.
The new spam-blocking feature is an extension of Google’s caller ID system, which helps identify businesses not stored in your address book, and has been available for several years now. The phone app checks incoming call numbers against an updating database and flags those that appear to be from spammers with a big red banner.
If a spam caller is identified, it gives the user an option to permanently block the number or whitelist those that are false positives.
This isn’t the first time that apps have been able to scan incoming calls and help users avoid answering spam calls, but it’s the first time Google has integrated it into a default app on Android devices. Third-party apps such as Truecaller promise to perform similar duties and have been available on both Android and iOS for several years.
But iPhone users have been limited by iOS’s locked-down nature, which is gradually being opened up to enable more advanced apps such as call screeners. The next version of the iPhone’s operating system, iOS 10, is due for release for the iPhone 5 or newer in September, and will include a new caller ID extension system for spam alerts, which is expected to allow similar systems to that on Android to operate on the iPhone.
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