The growing epidemic of robocalls seems to be getting in the nerves of many people and Google may have a solution to this problem. The company made an announcement on Tuesday that it will be launching a brand new feature that will allow people to answer calls with an automated system. This would literally be a virtual assistant designed to specifically deal with unwanted phone spam. The feature will be known as “Call Screen” and it will be available in the upcoming Pixel 3 smartphone.
According to Liza Ma, product manager at Google, the feature will be able to answer calls and easily ask callers who they are and why they are calling. It will also provide real-time transcription to the user and he or she can use that information to decide whether they will pick up the call or not. There’s also the option of sending a quick reply to the caller or marking the call as spam if needed. The feature will leverage on Google Assistant, the AI offered by Google to understand speech.
The tool will answer the calls using a predetermined message. Google says that the message reads, “Hi, the person you are calling is using a screening service from Google and will get a copy of this conversation.”
Despite the evolution of smartphones and mobile phones, robocalls are still a major problem around the world. A study that was released by Orion, a company that offers caller ID services and call blocking, noted that at least 50% of all phone calls will be spam by 2019. The company also noted that mobile spam calls have increased by nearly 30% in 2018 alone.
The call screening feature from Google is expected to address this issue. How it does it, however, depends on how the user responds. For example, if a call is marked as spam, the call screening feature will send the caller a message telling them to delete the number from their contact list. The caller will then be blocked from reaching the number in the future. Google says that it’s working to even ensure that the call scripts can be stored and accessed later through the call log.
However, this could raise a number of questions on user privacy. Google came under fire a few days ago after it emerged that the company failed to disclose a major data breach affecting half a million of Google+ users. The company announced that it was, in fact, shutting down the social media platform as a result. Nonetheless, the growth of automated voice systems has been massive over the last few years. This technology has increasingly become available for consumers and many experts believe that the new feature by Google symbolizes just how far this technology has come.
But there are of course concerns. For example, automated bots that can speak exactly like humans can be used to make prank calls and even pose major security risks. Some states like California have passed laws that prevent the bots from pretending to be human beings. But there are no federal regulations against this at the moment although a number of politicians have raised their concern.