One of the most interesting and useful features of the Pixel 3 is Call Screening, which uses automated prompts and Google Assistant to ask unknown callers why they're calling, without you ever having to pick up the phone. You get a real-time transcription of the conversation, and can choose from a handful of follow-up questions to get more information out of the caller before answering or hanging up. Luckily, using it is dead simple.
What you'll need
Call Screening is a great feature, but it's only available on a limited selection of devices. Luckily, though, it's expanding — while originally only available on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, and eventually making its way to older Pixel devices, we're starting to see the feature make its way to non-Google devices.
Motorola recently rolled out Call Screening to its entire line of Moto G7 devices, as well as the Motorola One lineup, though quite a few carriers have blocked the feature on their branded offerings. With that in mind, it's a safe bet to stick with the unlocked models if you're hoping to experience Call Screening.
No matter what device you use Call Screening on, all audio transcriptions happen locally on the device, rather than being uploaded to Google. Your phone also automatically offers to block spam numbers after you reject a call, so with any luck, you'll never need to answer another robo-call again!
Using Call Screen
There's no switch to toggle Call Screening on or off; it's enabled by default, and shows up as a third option (along with answer and decline) each time you receive a call. At the very least, you can choose either a male or female voice for the Assistant prompt when speaking to unknown callers.
- Open the Phone app and tap Settings.
- Near the bottom of the list, tap Call Screen.
- Tap Voice.
- Tap either Voice 1 (female) or Voice 2 (male).
You won't notice a difference, since the Assistant voice is only heard by the caller on the other end of the line, but it's nice to get a couple of options either way. The next time you receive a call from an unknown number (though Call Screen works on known callers, too), you can redirect them to your newly selected Assistant voice.
- Tap Screen call when receiving a phone call.
- You'll see the Google Assistant script being read in real time, along with a transcription of the caller's responses. Tap one of the options along the bottom to ask for more details.
- You can also choose prompts that end the call, like "I'll call you back" or "I'll message you."
- If at any point you'd like to answer or decline the call, tap the corresponding button at the bottom of the screen.
That's all there is to it! If the caller hangs up abruptly during the Call Screen, Google may ask if you'd like to label that phone number as a spam caller and block the number from calling you again.
Kit out your Pixel 3
The Pixel 3 is an amazing phone, but being the first of its series with a glass back, it's also Google's most fragile flagship yet. Luckily, you can protect it with a great case, and Google makes one that looks and feels so nice, you'll actually want to use it on your phone. Of course, that glass back enables wireless charging for the first time on a Pixel device, so take advantage of that, too!
Totallee Ultra-Thin Pixel 3 Case ($29 at Amazon)
Totallee's Pixel 3 case is ultra-thin and still tough enough to withstand a drop (or three). If you love your phone's minimalist design but want to keep it protected, this is the one to get.
Sony WH1000XM3 ($348 at Amazon)
Sony's popular noise-canceling headphones are some of our favorite Bluetooth headphones around, with excellent sound and an Ambient Sound mode that filters background sounds back in. The 1000XM3s are a traveler's best friend.
Google Pixel Stand ($80 at Best Buy)
The Pixel Stand is one of the few wireless chargers that can top up the Pixel 3 at its full 10W spec. It comes with some Pixel-exclusive features like gradually brightening the screen in the mornings and displaying your Nest cam feeds.
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