Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Samsung blocks scam calls, and Android could soon too

One of the big features on the latest Samsung phones that no one really talks about is how it can tell you when a telemarketer is calling and stop it in its tracks. That’s an awesome concept, and it might just be coming to more devices.

This week, Google has announced that it has begun to update the phone component of its Nexus phones to do much the same as what Samsung has been offering on its S7 and S7 Edge phones, with support for an index system to know which numbers might be scams, which might be telemarketers, and to use this information to help you determine whether or not you pick up the call or hang up ahead of time.

Samsung’s S7 Edge is able to pick up on scams and telemarketers, a great feature to be sure.

In the Samsung phones, it’s a feature that was worked on with Whitepages, and while few reviewers really picked up on it (this one included) during the time of the review, it only really shows itself when a telemarketer comes-a-calling.

You might see the company name pop up under the number, as if you had some advanced contact listing detailing numbers you shouldn’t have, or even some phrasing of “suspect spam” if it the number is foreign.

And if the phone system didn’t accurately predict it and you picked up and got an earful of someone asking you whether you’d like to buy life insurance when you just turned 30 — it’s a thing, folks — there’s also a “report number” button built into the Samsung phone system, so you can help influence the database and never let anyone else get caught in the trap.

When it started popping up on this writer’s phone earlier in the year, it was a genuine surprise, but an excellent one all the same, and the more scammers and spammers and telemarketers you get calls from, the more you also identify that Samsung’s phone counterpart is also able to show colour codes for phone calls you may not know. For instance, green means good, while orange means unsure, making a quick glance at the phone easy to sort out if it should be answered.

Samsung has been the only company to attempt this thus far, but this week, Google is joining in with its Nexus program, rolling out the updated phone system to Nexus devices with Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” and higher.


While Google isn’t saying quite how it makes the determination for which number you get phoned in with, it can be influenced just like the Samsung one, which likely means Google is building a database of its own, and given the complex “Knowledge Graph” the search giant creates from its search engine listings, there’s a possibility some of its identification comes from this.

And with Nexus devices getting the call blocking software, there is now a good chance that it could come to other Android devices, though if this does happen, it will likely be either in a future full operating system upgrade or with a new device.

Since Samsung already has the technology, and it will likely appear on the next Note phone set to be announced next week, Lenovo’s Motorola division could be the next place post-Google that receives it, if only because Motorola phones tend to use a thoroughly stock version of Android with the extra Motorola bits downloaded from the Google Play Store.

With this setup in mind, it’s very possible that Motorola devices will support the call blocking feature soon, and any other manufacturer that chooses to include the concept, though we’ll be sure to let you know when it’s confirmed that any do.


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