This week, Google quietly updated the stock Phone app in Android to push suspected spam calls directly to voicemail. This is a solid improvement over the previous behavior. But I’d like to see them take it yet another step further.
Here’s what’s happening.
To date, Google’s Phone app has displayed with a red background when there is a suspect spam call incoming. To dismiss it, just swipe down on the screen, and the call will go to voicemail. In my experience, the resulting voicemail will be about 3 seconds of silence, and just seeing that is basically a confirmation that the call was spam.
So, that’s nice. But now you can enable a new feature in the Phone app that will automatically push these suspected spam calls to voicemail. How you do so is explained on a Google support page: Open the Phone app and navigate to More (“…”) > Settings > Caller ID & spam. Then, under Filter spam calls, enable the “Prevent suspected spam calls from disturbing you” feature.
So, that’s nice too: No more annoying phone ringing sounds and manual pushing of those calls to voicemail. I found out about this change from The Verge, and I was happy to configure my phone to lessen the annoyances.
How bad is it? Today, spam calls account for roughly 90 percent of my received calls, I bet. Looking at my ten most recent calls received, I see only one that wasn’t spam (from my dentist). All 10 of my most recent 10 voicemails are 2 to 4 seconds long and are spam. (The 11th, from June 16, a month ago, was from Best Buy, which was alerting me to the completion of a car stereo install.)
So I’m glad Google is working on fixing this. But let me take this a step further.
Google, if the resulting voicemail is only three seconds long, don’t even show a Phone app alert. And if the same phone number leaves multiple 3-second empty voice mails, assume it is spam and never allow those calls to even reach my voicemail. This baloney needs to end.