Excursions by Amit Gawande

Thoughts on Google’s Call Screening feature

I don’t understand Google’s call screening feature. How does it solve the spam calls problem? Don’t I have to be equally attentive when the call arrives? I don’t think the problem is I have to receive the call, problem is I get the call in the first place.

Rather I am more distracted reading transcripts and making decisions. It looks to be targeted at the automated machine-driven calls. Human spammers/scammers will still have to be handled.

In most cases, the spam calls I get start with a person, a human, asking if it indeed is me. Then goes on to specify the call is about some information related to my account or a service I am using. And then comes the offer for you” part. I tend to disconnect right at first step when someone wants to know if me is indeed me.

What’s to say the call screening will transcribe something like This is xyz from abc bank and this is a service information call.”?

Anyway, no doubt Google has a great technology at its hands and the showcase via this use case sounds a lot coherent than the general duplex demo we saw during I/O. I am just perplexed how everyone seems to be already sold that this solves the problem which it isn’t even targeting.

Update: The post isn’t intended to be judgemental of the feature, rather it was, to be frank, in response to the constant perspective of this is so useful, I need it now” from all around. But I could hardly understand why. John Gruber’s this comment finally triggered this.

man oh man, do I want that feature (Call Screening) on iOS.

Even Sarah Perez described the problem with scam calls succinctly in her opinion piece at TechCrunch.

Nearly half of all cellphone calls next year will be from scammers. And their tactics have gotten much worse in recent months.

They now often trick people by claiming to be the IRS, a bank, government representatives, and more. They pretend you’re in some sort of legal trouble. They say someone has stolen your bank card. They claim you owe taxes. Plus, they often use phone number spoofing tricks to make their calls appear local in order to get recipients to pick up.

I get it, it’s a problem. But Call Screening solves it how? I could not find the answer to that question in the whole post.

thoughts