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Google Call Screen: Everything you need to know

Don't want to bother with that phone call? Google can take it for you.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Google not only recently announced two new Pixel phones, but the company also unveiled a new call screening service launching first with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL that will surely help you deal with calls from unknown numbers or people you'd rather avoid. 

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Call Screen answers incoming calls, asks the person for more information and gives options throughout the screening process to better handle the call. The entire experience is well done, impressive and easy to use.

How to use it

Every time your Pixel rings, you will see the standard incoming call interface, but with a new Screen Call button. You don't need to enable the feature — it's on by default. Tap on the button to immediately answer the call and have the Google Assistant begin speaking to the caller. The beginning script for the call is always the same. Google will let the caller know you are using a screening service, which will provide you with a transcript of the call, and ask the person to state the reason for the call.

Once the caller begins talking, a transcript of his or her response will show up on your phone's screen in real time. Just below the transcript will be a series of buttons for you to ask further questions of the caller, let them know you are busy, not interested or ask to be called later.

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

If the call is a solicitor or spam, you can report it as such and Google will end the call. If it's someone you want to talk to, press the green answer button and start talking.

The entire experience is incredibly done, impressive and easy to use.

Settings

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

You can change the voice used for Call Screen, switching from the default female voice to a male voice.

Open the Phone app, tap on the menu button then Settings. Towards the bottom of the options will be Call Screen. Select Call Screen then Voice. After listening to a preview of each voice, select the one you want to use and back out of the settings.

Privacy first and foremost

Call Screen uses Google Assistant to monitor the call. Just as Assistant transcribes your requests in real time, it also transcribes incoming calls. At no time during the call is any information sent to Google's servers — it's all handled on your phone.

Each time you talk to Google Assistant for tasks like sending a message or to play music, Google stores a recording of the audio on your Google account.

Google doesn't link or store any of the audio related to Call Screen, nor the transcripts, in your Google account. You can see the list of interactions and listen to the audio of each one here.) I've looked at my history and cannot find any instances of Call Screen being used.

Coming to more phones

Currently, Call Screen is only available on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Google has said that Call Screen will come to older Pixel devices via a software update in November.

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