A few years ago, the world decided that the last thing we wanted to do while using our phones was to use them as phones. Seriously, I'm a dinosaur, and outside of talking to my parents, calling for a Pizza, or learning about my car's extended warranty, even I don't really use the phone part of my smartphone.
But that doesn't mean it's not annoying as heck when I do interact with it, especially when I'm using one of the best Android phones not made by Google. It's not so difficult to explain, though — it's more of Google's insane Artificial Intelligence doing things that seem like sorcery when it comes to controlling who calls you and how you make phone calls. On the Pixel 6 with Android 12 it's about to get even better!
These aren't the headline features that reviewers and forums are going to be gushing over, but the two best things about the Pixel 6 just might be its call screening and how you can place a call to a busy business. Of course, neither idea is new; we already see call screening through the Google dialer, or if you have a Google Fi number, and having Assistant help you "talk" to a business is something that Google has been teasing forever.
Improved spam detection and call screening
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If you've never used Google's call screening and spam blocking dialer features, you have no idea how great they are and what you've been missing. Using AI, Google blocks spam calls completely, just like a call was coming from a number you blocked yourself. None of that Suspected Spam warning nonsense you might see while your phone still rings through that other companies offer. This is a feature that just works without you ever knowing it works.
In tandem, a feature called call screening makes sure you really want to talk to any unknown numbers that aren't recognized as spam. A call comes in, you hit the call screen button, and Google Assistant informs the caller that this person is selective and screens their calls like a smart person would want to do. The caller has the option to reply or hang up. If they reply, Google Assistant turns their vocal reply into a message you can read in real-time. Then all you need to do is decide if you want to answer.
Google said these features are getting even better. AI improvements mean that more spam calls will be auto-blocked into the pits of hell where they belong, and the ones that get through will be screened faster than ever before so you can swipe away some person trying to sell you steaks through the mail or offer you that super-duper-extended car warranty you know you don't want or need.
As someone who moved away from a Pixel and into a Galaxy S21, these are the features I miss most of all. I love it when my smartphone is actually smart enough not to bug me over silly things.
Now, calling the DMV will suck a lot less
I have to call my county office every month to pay my water bill. Yes, it's 2021, and this should be done via a website, yet here we are, and I have the number to the Water and Sewer District desk stored in my contacts like a caveman. To top it all off, calling every month is a huge PITA because some sort of crazed robot computer answers all incoming calls to "help" my call get routed to the correct person.
What that really means is I have to sit through a long list of options and press the #1 on the dialer once the robot is done reading to me, then either wait on hold or go through another set of options to leave a message to someone's "voice mailbox." Finally, If I am lucky and call before lunchtime, I have the person on the phone who will take my debit card number so I can pay the water bill out of my checking account.
Google might finally be here to save me from this pit of ancient technology with the Pixel 6's new Assistant dialer integration that does all the listening and waiting for me. What it does is allow Google Assistant to listen to the opening greeting, present you with a list of options to choose from, then keep listening to more menus or wait on hold for you and ring you up when it's time to talk to an actual human. To make it all even better, the feature also suggests the best time to make that call.
I get why companies big and small need to automate the routing of incoming calls, and I understand that hearing something like "marque dos para español" is very important for many of us. I'm not trying to change the system because as much as I hate it (you probably hate it too sometimes), it's a necessary evil. This is why it's so cool to see Google trying to do something to make it better for the caller.
Google's "don't be evil" days may be long gone, but it is refreshing to see an AI-focused company putting super helpful features out there. And to be honest, it's enough to make me want to buy a Pixel phone even if I had never planned to do so. Of course, these features will probably work their way into every other phone one day, but for now, they are the best feature of the Pixel 6.
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