One of the most interesting and useful new features of the Pixel 3 is Call Screening, which uses automated prompts and Google Assistant to ask unknown callers why they’re calling. 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.
Products used in this guide
- Google Store: Pixel 3 ($799)
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 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.
What you’ll need
Call Screen is a great feature, but it’s only available on a limited selection of devices.
Google Pixel 3
$799 at Google Store
Experience Android as Google intended.
The Pixel 3 isn’t just the best way to use Call Screen — it’s the best way to experience Android, at least according to Google. It features a pure build of Android 9 Pie, front-firing speakers and an incredible camera, all in a relatively compact size.
Works just as well
Google Pixel 2
$649 at Google Store
Google ported Call Screen to last year’s phone.
If you already have a Pixel 2 or 2 XL, then you’re in luck. You don’t have to upgrade to this year’s model just to get Call Screening; Google ported the feature over in a recent update, so it should work just fine on last year’s still-excellent flagship.
As much as we’d love to see Call Screening make its way to other phones in the future, for the time being, you’ll need a newer Pixel device; a Pixel 2 or 3 of either size will do just fine. Of course, all audio transcriptions happen locally on the device, rather than being uploaded to Google — with any luck, you’ll never need to answer another spam call again.