Back in February 2020, we ran an article explaining how to use the handy call screening functionality that Google had introduced for its Pixel phones. Screen Call, Google’s screening app, allows you to screen calls for numbers you don’t recognize (or people you don’t particularly want to talk to).
Nearly two years later, and with Android 12, the company has added some useful features that can not only save you from having to deal with spam calls but can keep you from having to deal with the tedious and frustrating process of working through call menus. And some of them are available even if you don’t have a Pixel.
How does call screening work? When you get a phone call from someone who is not in your contact list, you get a “Screen call” button (along with buttons for accepting or denying the call). If you hit “Screen call,” the caller will get an audio message asking them to say who they are and why they’re calling. The transcribed text of the message and their reply will appear on your screen. You can then choose whether you want to pick up the call or not.
Unfortunately, as we all know, there can be vast differences between Android phones, depending on the manufacturer and the model. As a result, one of the newest features available — automatic call screening — can currently only be found on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
So this article offers separate directions on how to use Google’s call screening feature for a Pixel 6 or 6 Plus and for other phones that may currently be using Android 12. We used a Pixel 3 for the latter. However, if you have, say, a Samsung phone, you can access some of these features by downloading the Google Phone app from the Play Store, and you will probably find these directions work for you as well.
It’s not difficult to manage how Screen Call works. Here’s how you can adjust your settings, depending on whether you are using a Pixel 6 model or not.
Pixel 6 and 6 Pro
You will first see two controls that you can toggle on and off: “See caller and spam ID” (which has the phone identify business and spam numbers, as well as known contacts) and “Verified Calls” (which lets you see the call ID for businesses that are verified as legit).
For all other controls, tap on “Call Screen.” This is where you can decide what you want to do with calls that fall into one of several categories: spam, possibly faked numbers, first-time callers, or hidden numbers. In all cases, you have two choices: you can choose to have the phone ring and then manually decide whether you want to screen the call or not, or you can let Google automatically screen the call and decline it if it’s a robocall. The only exception is spam calls, which you can also choose to silently decline so that your phone won’t ring at all.
You have to set each of these categories separately: tap on the category name and select how you’d like those calls to be handled. The default is to ring the phone and let you decide manually whether you’d like to screen the call, so if that’s your choice, you can just leave things as they are. And one thing to be aware of: according to Google, automatic screening won’t work if you’re using headphones or speakers.
There are two other features you can enable in Call Screen. You can save the audio from any calls that are screened. You can also have either a female-sounding or male-sounding voice answer the screened call; the default is female, so if you want to change it, tape on “Voice.”
Older Pixels and other phones
If you aren’t using a Pixel 6 or 6 Plus, you will still be offered the chance to screen a call each time the number is not in your Contacts list (although you won’t have access to the automatic screening available in the Pixel 6 line). You can manage the settings for call screening here:
You will have access to three controls that you can toggle on and off: “See caller and spam ID” (which lets you identify business and spam numbers, as well as known contacts), Filter spam calls (to prevent suspect spam calls from ringing your phone), and Verified Calls (which lets you see the call ID for businesses that are verified as legit).
Whether you have access to automatic screening or just manual screening, it’s inarguable that being able to screen unknown phone numbers can help us to avoid having to deal directly with annoying and / or scamming calls.