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Google Pixel users can screen spam calls

Google says it's added smarts to Google Assistant that allow Pixel users to avoid picking up unwanted spam and robocalls.

Google unveiled its latest Pixel smartphone, touting tons of intelligent features.
Google unveiled its latest Pixel smartphone, touting tons of intelligent features.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Google promises you'll never have to answer another robocall again.

That's thanks to some new smarts coming to its Pixel smartphones via the Google Assistant. Users can now screen spam calls and get a real time transcription of the call so they can decide whether to answer, hang up, or block the number and report it as spam.

Google already offers a way to filter calls suspected of being spam. But this new feature goes further, letting you get more information before you pick up a call from a questionable number. Spam calls and robocalls, which use autodialers, are on the rise, in spite of efforts from the Federal Communications Commission to curb them.

Ridding the world of unwanted robocalls is tricky business, since some legitimate communications are made using automated call technology. Those include weather alerts and messages from schools, public utilities and political organizations. Google's Call Screen feature offers another tool that could make it easier to help distinguish legitimate calls from unwanted spam. 

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

Google announced the feature on Tuesday during an event in New York City where it introduced the new Pixel 3 smartphone along with a slew of other hardware products. The feature will also be coming to existing Pixel phones.

Google's launch event arrives as the search giant has become more serious about its hardware business. Three years ago, the company unveiled its first Pixel Phone and Google Home smart speaker. Since then, Google has invested more heavily in its "Made by Google" device lineup, which includes everything from virtual reality headsets to video and audio streaming devices.

The Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3XL go on sale in the US starting Oct. 19 and will be available in more markets on Nov. 1. Pricing will start at $799 for the Pixel 3 and $899 for the Pixel 3 XL.

The Pixel 3 is poised to compete head-to-head with the best phones on the market, and Google is putting its strongest feature -- artificial intelligence -- front and center. On Google's blog, the company called the Pixel 3 the "most helpful device in your life," pointing out that the Smart Assistant can answer while the phone is charging and that the camera is designed so that it "won't miss a shot."

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL: What you need to know about Google's new smartphones.

Google's Oct. 9 event: Pixel 3, new Chromecast, Pixel Slate and more.