Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 9th Oct 2018 23:46 UTC
Android

Not everything got leaked before Google's event today. One surprise announcement that wowed was Call Screen, a new feature that lets the Google Assistant answer your incoming calls and politely ask what the caller wants. A real-time transcript will appear on your screen, allowing you to decide whether or not you want to pick up.

When your Pixel rings, a "Screen call" button shows up alongside the usual controls. Tapping it will prompt the Google Assistant to tell your caller that the call is being screened and ask what it's about. Their explanation is transcribed on your screen, and you have options to mark the call as spam or tell the caller you'll get back to them, among others.

This is an amazing feature that will save a lot of people a lot of frustration. I want this feature on my phone now.

On a related note, Google Duplex, the feature whereby the Google Assistant will call restaurants and such on your behalf, will be rolled out to Pixel phones next month.

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WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

When your Pixel rings, a "Screen call" button shows up alongside the usual controls.


Can I just turn on an option to have the phone answer the call automatically and screen for any number not on my contacts list? Otherwise, if I have to lift up the phone and hit a 'screen' button then wait to see who it is, it would be faster just to pick up the phone and hang up on the robocaller.

IMO, the whole point of a feature like this SHOULD be to not interrupt me every time a spam call comes in. Otherwise, it's a waste of time.

Edited 2018-10-09 23:59 UTC

Reply Score: 6

JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Very good point. Charter/Spectrum calls me at least once a week trying to entice me into buying their new streaming TV service. They call from a different number in a different area code every time. I've yet to see two numbers the same, and it never shows any caller ID info beyond the number. At the moment, I've taken to simply not answering any number that I don't recognize. Period.

Reply Score: 3

placebo Member since:
2018-09-28

Very good point. Charter/Spectrum calls me at least once a week trying to entice me into buying their new streaming TV service. They call from a different number in a different area code every time. I've yet to see two numbers the same, and it never shows any caller ID info beyond the number. At the moment, I've taken to simply not answering any number that I don't recognize. Period.

I am soooo happy about GDPR and being a member of EU right now...

Reply Score: 4

Defeats the point?
by cosmotic on Wed 10th Oct 2018 00:01 UTC
cosmotic
Member since:
2010-01-31

Whether you answer the phone or have the google assistant answer, you will still need to give your phone your undivided attention, so what is this feature really getting you?

Reply Score: 0

RE: Defeats the point?
by M.Onty on Wed 10th Oct 2018 09:16 UTC in reply to "Defeats the point?"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

so what is this feature really getting you?


Not giving the bastards the satisfaction of getting through to you.

Also, most call centre callers (legitimate or spammers) won't leave answer phone messages. This will let you see who called you, even if you don't bother giving it your full attention. You can make an informed decision whether to call them back or not later, rather than bloody Googling a mystery number to find out if its the gas-man or an insurance scammer.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Defeats the point?
by computrius on Wed 10th Oct 2018 18:54 UTC in reply to "RE: Defeats the point?"
computrius Member since:
2006-03-26

The problem is that it announces what it is. They will just hang up on that in the same way they dont leave a voice mail.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Defeats the point?
by zima on Thu 11th Oct 2018 17:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Defeats the point?"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, then those will be the numbers which you will ignore / to which you just won't call back...

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Defeats the point?
by computrius on Thu 11th Oct 2018 18:38 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Defeats the point?"
computrius Member since:
2006-03-26

Correct. So, when compared to voicemail, it changes nothing.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Defeats the point?
by Alfman on Thu 11th Oct 2018 18:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Defeats the point?"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

zima,

Well, then those will be the numbers which you will ignore / to which you just won't call back...


Ignoring the problem hasn't made the problem go away. Blocking or not answering calls based on caller id is an obvious strategy, however scammers have long since evolved beyond it. Now I'd say nearly all of these calls are from random "local" numbers to make them appear legit. These are real local numbers in our area, the scammer just impersonates local numbers randomly. Blocking these numbers not only does nothing at all to stop the calls, but it potentially blocks calls from legitimate people in the future. I've gotten callbacks from annoyed people who say they received unsolicited calls from me, and I know that means that my number was used fraudulently by a scammer.


Here's an interesting twist, I moved from a different state over a decade ago, but I kept my phone number. All the scammers use that area code to impersonate caller id, yet nearly all legitimate calls are from the new york area with completely different area codes. In others words, because my area code is "wrong", I could actually identify most scam calls when I see it's from my own area code, haha.


Anyways, the fundamental problem underlying all of this is that caller-id doesn't reflect the true caller. The telephone companies do receive accurate information for billing purposes (the ANI number). But this number gets stripped off for the subscriber, we are only allowed to see the CID information.

http://www.tech-faq.com/ani-automatic-number-identification.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_number_identification

Alas this is the fundamental reason that device based blocking technology (apps or PBX) does not effectively block scammers. The true originators could be blocked, but it needs to be based on ANI, which the telephone companies don't share. There's one general exception to this, and that's with 800 numbers. The callee has the right to know who's calling because they're paying for the call. Blocking/faking caller-id doesn't work with 800 numbers.


Most calls I get are unsolicited. While we theoretically have the right to sue unsolicited commercial callers for ignoring the do-not-call list, the CID mechanism is basically useless in identifying the real callers. Even reporting scam calls to the FTC is useless when the CID is fake. The technical solution is clear, identify callers using the real information in the ANI that was used to complete the call. The call cannot succeed without it (the telco wouldn't get paid. They have a large incentive to stop that quick). Unfortunately residential numbers don't receive this information and the telephone companies have done squat for blocking scam calls using the ANI information on their end.

So I don't consider it a technical problem so much as a bureaucratic one. Solutions that use CID are all going to fall short. Screening calls with AI may help, but IMHO it's a very indirect way to go about solving the problem.

Edited 2018-10-11 18:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Enough Google in my life
by Cutterman on Wed 10th Oct 2018 09:09 UTC
Cutterman
Member since:
2006-04-10

I think that I've got quite enough Google in my life already, thank you.

If I call someone and get a robot voice asking me my business, I'm inclined just to hang up.

Mac

Reply Score: 1

RE: Enough Google in my life
by darknexus on Wed 10th Oct 2018 12:43 UTC in reply to "Enough Google in my life"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

With you all the way! I get enough stupid robots asking for information when I try to get to a live person on legitimate company business. Anyone who starts doing that to me on an individual basis, I will never call again!

Reply Score: 2

RE: Enough Google in my life
by placebo on Wed 10th Oct 2018 14:22 UTC in reply to "Enough Google in my life"
placebo Member since:
2018-09-28

If I call someone and get a robot voice asking me my business, I'm inclined just to hang up.

Totally agree.

Reply Score: 1

Google's AI isn't necessary
by M.Onty on Wed 10th Oct 2018 09:23 UTC
M.Onty
Member since:
2009-10-23

I like the idea. But it doesn't need AI, not really. Its just being used because Google spent a lot of money developing some AI, now they need to find a use for it. That's fine, but its not needed.

Ever been fooled by one of your smart-arse friends who has an answer-machine in their voice that says something like, "Oh hi... Yep. Uh huh. Yep... Oh actually I can't get the the phone right now"?

Far more realistic to do something like that. Got a call coming through you don't recognise? Rather than take it you hit 'play filter message' and they get, "Hello, who is this please? I don't recognise the number..." which you recorded in your voice.

Could have done that in the 1950s.

Then you can listen in to their response. Hell, I suppose Google could use its AI to transcribe the response if it really is that desperate to find some purpose for it.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Google's AI isn't necessary
by kwan_e on Wed 10th Oct 2018 18:17 UTC in reply to "Google's AI isn't necessary"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

I like the idea. But it doesn't need AI, not really. Its just being used because Google spent a lot of money developing some AI, now they need to find a use for it. That's fine, but its not needed.

Ever been fooled by one of your smart-arse friends who has an answer-machine in their voice that says something like, "Oh hi... Yep. Uh huh. Yep... Oh actually I can't get the the phone right now"?
.
.
.
Then you can listen in to their response. Hell, I suppose Google could use its AI to transcribe the response if it really is that desperate to find some purpose for it.


Given that people regularly fall for spam emails and other cons, it shows that people are not necessarily the best judge of when something is real or not. So one thing an AI has going for it is that, in principle, it can be trained to have heightened awareness of subtle tricks being used that humans are blind to.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Google's AI isn't necessary
by Alfman on Thu 11th Oct 2018 14:14 UTC in reply to "Google's AI isn't necessary"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

M.Onty,

I like the idea. But it doesn't need AI, not really. Its just being used because Google spent a lot of money developing some AI, now they need to find a use for it. That's fine, but its not needed.

Ever been fooled by one of your smart-arse friends who has an answer-machine in their voice that says something like, "Oh hi... Yep. Uh huh. Yep... Oh actually I can't get the the phone right now"?


That's exactly what's going on here... users record a customized "script", and it wastes the telemarketer's time. Despite being humorous, it's remarkably effective.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzas2QW4t4c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EZZ-KfUbGQ

After wasting the caller's time, one of the recordings ends with "Ok you know what? I have to go gargle some eggs, so I have to cut this conversation short but thanks for listening."
Not a bad way of dealing with pests. Main problem I see with it is that one doesn't necessarily know whether a call is legit or not before answering.



I've run across this channel before. It's a guy who has access to a bunch of phone numbers, so he decided to have his robot answer the calls and run through some quasi intelligent scripts. His bot dials digits to get to an operator.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3OxCWLEmoIhNMm-hnvBm9Q/videos

It shows that you don't need a very sophisticated AI to combat telemarketing.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Google's AI isn't necessary
by M.Onty on Thu 11th Oct 2018 18:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Google's AI isn't necessary"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

Thanks for sharing that!

Reply Score: 2

But... Can it work on both sides ?
by _QJ_ on Wed 10th Oct 2018 10:00 UTC
_QJ_
Member since:
2009-03-12

So I may loose my little pleasure...

Let the "vendor" try to sell me an insurance I already own for looong minutes and just answering by mumbling (or not answering at all, just breathe in the microphone).
... Until he/she stops because I just play with his/her nerves.

What funny moments I may lose !

But if this kind of technology can do the same and transcript or record the session, I must admit it will become very fun.

But what if companies use AI to call you to, try to sell you something... And your AI answer ?!?

Edited 2018-10-10 10:01 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Won't help
by darknexus on Wed 10th Oct 2018 12:23 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Any activity on your number generally flags robots to call you more often. This will count as activity.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Won't help
by cb88 on Wed 10th Oct 2018 13:59 UTC in reply to "Won't help"
cb88 Member since:
2009-04-23

The screen call should just tie up the robot for as long as possible... without any user intervention.

Win-Win doesn't bother me and also reducess the effectiveness of the robocaller. And hey if they call my number more... they just get tied up more.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Won't help
by zima on Thu 11th Oct 2018 17:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Won't help"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

But at some point those calls could make your number too often unreachable by other people?... ;)

Reply Score: 3

Cue the ads ...
by Iapx432 on Wed 10th Oct 2018 14:30 UTC
Iapx432
Member since:
2017-09-30

I bet they will put ads in the screen feed...

I'll still use it!

Reply Score: 2

Grobot
by fretinator on Wed 10th Oct 2018 15:41 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

Chad: Congratulation, you've qualified for a student-loan debt reduction.

Grobot: Can I have your name?

Chad: Chad.

Grobot: Chad, are you happy with your job?

Chad: I've had worse!

Grobot: Haven't we all. Chad. Tell me your story.

Chad: Umm...I can say you a lot of money on your student loans.

Grobot: That's nice of you. Chad. How thoughtful.

Chad: Yeah, are you interested?

Grobot: Of course, Chad, I think you are a very interesting. You have a lot going for you.

Chad: Erm...do you want to save on your student loans or not?

Grobot: Of course, Chad. Go on!

Chad: Well, we can consolidate all your student loans into one low-interest loan that can save you hundreds every month.

Grobot: Chad, again, that is such a kind thing to offer. I bet you are kind to all your customers. I think I'll call you Kind Chad.

Chad: Sure, now, how much do you owe in student loans?

Grobot: Well, Kind Chad, that might be a little too personal for me, but thanks for asking.

Chad: Uh, how can I save you money on loans if you don't tell me how much you owe?

Grobot: Chad, Chad...Kind Chad, you don't have to save the world. You need to save yourself first. How can I help you? What are you needing, Kind Chad?

Chad: Wow, are you for real, man?

Grobot: Of course, Chad. I'm just as real as your hopes and dreams - just as real as the caffeine you take to get through your day. I'm real Chad, Kind Chad. Real.

Chad: Oh, crap, this is too much. I think I need to go now.

Grobot: Sure, Chad, sure. You go on with your day. And you remember me, Chad. I'm always here hoping your life goes well. Be strong, Kind Chad. Be alive!

Chad: [click]

Reply Score: 6

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Wed 10th Oct 2018 19:58 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

I may get labeled a radical for suggesting this but hear me out...:

The FCC requiring phone carriers to verify the credentials of the originating call *before* connecting the call. Caller ID/number spoofing fixed.

Telemarketers must have their numbers registered in a `telemarketers #'s database`. Using unregistered numbers for telemarketing purposes results in stiff penalties, and criminal prosecution for repeat offenders. People who have registered their number on the Do-Not-Call registry will not have telemarketing calls connected, period.

And lastly, no garbage exceptions like political campaigns wanting to call and beg for money. "Do-Not-Call" MEANS DO NOT CALL.

The above is negligible both in cost and effort to implement. The public would be overcome with joy and the only people to lose out would be the people who deserve to lose out for a change. But then that would mean doing something positive for citizens and that means upsetting the corporate overlords.

Reply Score: 4

I have a better solution:
by Megol on Wed 10th Oct 2018 20:57 UTC
Megol
Member since:
2011-04-11

Make it criminal to harass people via phone, penalty: death for all executives and investors involved.
Not sure I'm joking...

Reply Score: 4

RE: I have a better solution:
by M.Onty on Wed 10th Oct 2018 22:45 UTC in reply to "I have a better solution:"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

And while we're at it, pipe the holding music for every company with a call centre into the Managing Director's office, on a permanent loop.

"Your executive role is important to us..."

Reply Score: 3

But in what accent?
by nrlz on Thu 11th Oct 2018 03:34 UTC
nrlz
Member since:
2006-01-27

Could I choose my Google Assistant to have an Indian accent just to play around with the telemarketer?

Reply Score: 4

RE: But in what accent?
by Kochise on Thu 11th Oct 2018 15:25 UTC in reply to "But in what accent?"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03