The Google Phone app is getting an update this afternoon for all of the phones out there that use it. We haven't noticed any new changes on the surface, but clues from a teardown show that Google is preparing a call screening feature so you can more easily differentiate between legitimate and unwanted callers. There are also preparations for a new feature to simplify recording voicemail greetings right on your phone.
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk. All screenshots and images are real unless otherwise stated, and images are only altered to remove personal information.
For many of us, if an incoming call doesn't match the phone number from our contact list, it's probably a spammer, telemarketer, or maybe a doctor's office calling to confirm an appointment – probably with a blocked caller ID (which is both dumb and sometimes illegal, btw). However, if you're expecting an important call from an unknown number, you may not want to let it go to voicemail. Google may be about to turn on support for a feature that finds itself right in the middle: Call screening.
Resources added in v22 of the Phone app include a new settings screen where users will be able to turn on and configure call screening. Sadly, this probably won't be very useful for reducing spammers and spoofers, but at least it will help you avoid connecting to some random callers.
Basically, if a suspicious caller dials your number, they'll be asked for a name and possibly some follow-up questions before their call can get through to you. The responses will be transcribed into text for you to read, or if you begin listening to the call when it begins, you'll be able to hear the questions and answers in real time. Naturally, you can answer or reject the call from there. Missed calls will have those responses recorded and ready for playback later.
<string name="speakeasy_status_setting_title">Call Screen</string>
<string name="speakeasy_activated_status_setting_summary">Screen unwanted calls with real-time audio transcription and quick responses</string><string name="speakeasy_voice_setting_title">Call Screen voice</string><string name="speakeasy_followup_setting_title">Follow-up responses</string><string name="speakeasy_works_setting_summary">Call Screen works without Wi-Fi or data. The conversation audio and transcript are saved only in your call history, only on your phone.</string><string name="speakeasy_setting_title">Call Screen</string><string name="speakeasy_activating_status_setting_summary">Activating Call Screen / Screen unwanted calls with real-time audio transcription and quick responses</string><string name="speakeasy_followup_key">speakeasy_followup_key</string>
<PreferenceScreen xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto" xmlns:aapt="http://schemas.android.com/aapt">
<Preference android:title="@string/speakeasy_status_setting_title" android:key="@string/speakeasy_status_key" android:summary="@string/speakeasy_activated_status_setting_summary"/>
<Preference android:title="@string/speakeasy_voice_setting_title" android:key="@string/speakeasy_voice_key"/>
<Preference android:title="@string/speakeasy_followup_setting_title" android:key="@string/speakeasy_followup_key"/>
<com.android.dialer.widget.TextViewPreference android:title="@string/speakeasy_works_setting_summary" android:key="@string/speakeasy_how_it_works_key"/>
<activity android:name="com.google.android.apps.dialer.incallui.speakeasy.settings.SettingsActivity" android:label="@string/speakeasy_setting_title" android:parentActivityName="com.google.android.apps.dialer.settings.GoogleDialerSettingsActivity" android:theme="@style/SettingsStyle">
<action android:name="com.google.android.apps.dialer.incallui.speakeasy.settings.SHOW_SPEAK_EASY_SETTINGS" />
<category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />
Call screening is hardly new, some carriers have been offering this same feature for a long time, and even Google Voice offered it at least as early as 2009. However, it's possible this won't be a widely available feature. Google may only be implementing it to support carriers that already offer call screening. However, one line does point out that call screening works without wi-fi or data, and all of the responses will be available on your phone. This likely means the Phone app will take the call on your behalf and handle the conversation without your involvement.
As nice as this feature might be in some situations, I still can't wait until it evolves into a spam prevention feature. Just imagine a spammer getting caught up in loops while they talk to Google Duplex for ten minutes rather than interrupting us for even one. #betterfuture
Recording voicemail greetings
Google Voice recently added screens for managing your voicemail greetings, and now the Phone app may be following in similar footsteps. New resources show Google is building screens for listening to your current voicemail greeting and recording a new one. Put simply, you'll be able to change your voicemail without relying on an app from your carrier or calling up the voicemail system and pressing buttons to navigate through a menu.
<string name="voicemail_change_greeting_preference_title">Voicemail greeting</string>
<string name="voicemail_change_greeting_key">voicemail_change_greeting_key</string>excerpt from /xml/voicemail_settings.xml
<Preference android:title="@string/voicemail_change_greeting_preference_title" android:key="@string/voicemail_change_greeting_key"/><activity android:name="com.android.dialer.voicemail.settings.CurrentVoicemailGreetingActivity" /><activity android:name="com.android.dialer.voicemail.settings.RecordVoicemailGreetingActivity" android:configChanges="keyboardHidden|orientation|screenSize" android:label="@string/voicemail_change_greeting_preference_title" android:parentActivityName="com.android.dialer.app.settings.DialerSettingsActivity" android:theme="@style/SettingsStyle" />
There's really not much more to say on this feature since most of it is pretty straightforward. The only real question is which carriers it will work with. There's a chance it's already working now with some carriers, but it didn't turn up for either of mine.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.