Google will supercharge its Pixel Call Screen feature with the tech behind Bard

Phone call being screened on a Pixel phone
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Google is looking to add conversational AI to its Pixel Call Screen feature.
  • The search giant may apply the same AI smarts behind Bard to the spam-blocking functionality.
  • There's no exact date on when this feature will be released, but the product manager stated that it will arrive sometime this year.

Google made a serious effort to root out unwanted calls with the launch of the Call Screen feature on Pixel phones back in 2018, and the company is stepping up its global fight against robocalls by adding conversational AI to the mix.

In the latest Made by Google podcast episode, Jonathan Eccles, Google's group product manager for the Phone app, shared a few bits about the company's plan to address spam calls (via 9to5Google). To be clear, Call Screen already relies on artificial intelligence to combat robocalls. But the search giant appears to be cooking up a new AI upgrade that will most likely use LaMDA, Google's large language model (LLM) that fuels Bard.

This will give Mountain View's global crusade against spam calls a major ally in the form of a "multi-step, multi-turn conversational AI," which Eccles says "could open a lot of interesting doors in terms of creating this protective and helpful layer at the front of every incoming call."

With recent hints that Google is baking a ChatGPT-like chatbot into Search, we can count on more Google services picking up the same AI capabilities, with Call Screen being one of the likely candidates.

It's unclear whether Google chooses to inject Bard per se into the spam-blocking call screening option or come up with a new name. In any case, conversational AI is coming to Call Screen, complementing the company's recent slate of AI projects, including major AI upgrades for Gmail and other Google Workspace apps.

There's no clear timeline for when Google's advanced Call Screen AI will make its debut. During the podcast, Eccles teased that it'll arrive later this year, implying that the upgrade would coincide with a major product announcement, presumably for Google's next challenger to the best Android phones.

With the Google Pixel 8 expected to break cover in the fall of this year, we're likely to learn more about the beefed-up Call Screen functionality by then. We might even hear about it at the upcoming Google I/O event in May, but that's really anyone's guess right now.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.