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Google’s Phone app could soon tell you why a business is calling you

Google’s Phone app could soon tell you why a business is calling you


As part of a new pilot Google is running in Brazil

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Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge

Google is piloting a new Verified Calls feature for its Phone app in Brazil that shows call recipients a business’ name, logo, and the reason for its call. News of the feature first appeared on a Google support page that was spotted by Android Police, and Google subsequently confirmed the pilot to The Verge. The feature relies on a business supplying its phone number, your phone number, and the reason for its call directly to Google, which pushes this information to the Phone app. If the information lines up, then the phone app gives the call a Verified Call badge.

“In Brazil, we’re piloting a feature in the Phone app that verifies calls from businesses.” Google said in a statement given to The Verge, “As we’re currently piloting this feature, we don’t have specific information to share regarding general availability.” Google said the feature “helps people understand the true identity of a business calling them.”

It’s a feature that has the potential to be enormously helpful, not just for working out who’s calling you, but for knowing when a call is even worth picking up in the first place. I’m happy to pick up the phone if my bank is calling to let me know about a problem with my account, for example, and this feature could be another way to help weed out marketing calls and other spam.

Although Google’s support page says the feature is on by default, it outlines a couple of limitations. First is the fact that Verified Calls relies on businesses proactively providing information to Google, meaning not all calls without the verified badge will necessarily be spam. Google also says the service only works on the Google Phone app, which means it won’t be available on every Android phone. It also relies on you adding your phone number to your Google account. Google says that it will delete your phone number and the reason for a call “within minutes” of the call being verified.

Update June 27th, 8:15AM ET: Updated with confirmation from Google that Verified Calls is a pilot it’s currently running in Brazil.