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Google Call Screen: Everything you need to know

Don't want to bother with that phone call? If you have a Pixel phone, Google can take it for you.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Google first unveiled its Call Screen feature alongside the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL back in October. Call Screen answers incoming calls, asks the person for more information, transcribing their response in real time, and gives options throughout the screening process to better handle the call. 

The feature is currently available on the Pixel 2, 2 XL, Pixel 3 and 3 XL

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

How to use it

Every time your Pixel rings, you'll 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 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.

Alternatively, you can listen to the caller's responses in real time by holding the phone to your ear, or pressing the volume button on the side of your Pixel to activate the speakerphone. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

If the call is a robot 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.


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.

At launch, there was no way to view previous transcripts, but towards the end of 2018 Google added the ability to view Call Screen transcripts. You can read more about where to find your Call Screen transcripts here

Now playing: Watch this: Google Pixel 3 can screen your calls

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Originally published Oct. 16, 2018.
Update, Jan. 31, 2019: Added new supported devices and new features. 

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