Pixel’s Call Screen feature gets better at filtering calls with a new conversational mode

Alongside the launch of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro smartphones, Google is updating its Call Screen feature with clever new features that will allow users to better determine which calls they want to skip and those they want to take. At the company’s Made By Google Android event this morning, Google showed off an impressive demo that showed how its AI could answer calls on users’ behalf and then engage in more natural conversations with the caller to help determine if the call warranted your attention.

With the improved AI, Google said the next generation of Call Screen is helping Pixel owners receive 50% fewer spam calls on average, by answering calls from unknown numbers with a new and more natural-sounding speaking voice. And, critically, the company claims the feature is now smart enough to separate the calls you want to take from those you don’t.

In a demo of the feature, the Call Screen virtual calling assistant identified itself and alerted the caller it was recording the call on behalf of the recipient. This addresses one of the original criticisms that faced another AI calling feature that helped users book appointments and reservations upon its original debut — the feature seemed to be trying to pretend to be human and didn’t identify itself as a bot of sorts. Call Screen doesn’t engage in that trickery, but the voice it uses sounds very human.

After the caller explains why they’re calling, the AI decides how to respond. During the demo, Google showed a spam call that said “Hi, you’ve won an all-expense paid trip to the Caribbean. Press 8 to claim your prize now.” Call Screen’s AI responded, “Unfortunately the person you’re calling cannot take your call right now, have a nice day.”

In another example, an airline representative identified themselves and Call Screen then followed up to ask for a quick description of why they were calling. The caller said they needed to discuss ticketing options and the AI bot said, “Okay, let me try to get the person you’re trying to reach on the line.”

Google said Call Screen will also soon offer contextual replies so you can respond in a tap without even taking the call — for example, when you need to tap a button to confirm a doctor’s appointment.

The new generation of Call Screen will work on Pixel Watch, too, when connected to a Tensor-enabled Pixel phone. This will arrive through a Pixel feature drop later in the year.

Read more about Google's 2023 Pixel Event on TechCrunch