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Google Voice update helps users screen nameless callers

Upgrading its phone service, Google adds two new groups -- one that lets users send anonymous callers straight to voicemail and another to create personalized greetings for contact lists.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Google announced today that it's aiming to help users control their settings to more easily avoid answering those pesky anonymous callers on Google Voice. Be it an unknown, restricted, or blocked number, the Web giant says users can now fit those callers into one specified group.

"Many users have asked us for controls aimed at people who are NOT in their address book," Google software engineer Tom Ford wrote in a blog post. "So today, we're adding two groups of callers for Google Voice users."

Besides grouping anonymous callers into one group so users can screen those calls or send them straight to voicemail, Google Voice has also upgraded the way users can group people in their address books. Users can now set personal greetings for all those people in their contact lists. Both these groups are managed via the group tab in Google Voice's settings.

"Google Voice helps you customize how you treat callers by giving you the ability to play a custom greeting for your parents or send your chatty neighbor straight to voicemail," Ford wrote.

Google announced another new feature in February that lets users add "Circles" to Google Voice, which works similarly to Google+ Circles. Within the "Groups & Circles" tab in settings, users can categorize their contacts into appropriate groups, such as acquaintances, friends, and family.

How the new settings for anonymous callers and personalized greetings look: