LOS ANGELES — Apple is putting robocallers on notice.
As part of the upcoming iOS 13 software update Apple revealed Monday at its Worldwide Developers Conference,the company introduced new features that promise to block frequent scam and spam callers. Essentially, when this setting is turned on, only phone numbers that are recognized (via your Contacts, Mail, and Messages) will ring the phone. All other calls are automatically dispatched to voicemail.
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The user will only be notified about the call if the caller leaves a voicemail. The recipient can then read Apple’s transcription of the voicemail and see if they want to call the number back.
“I think it reflects how frustrated people are,” said Jonathan Nelson, director of project management of the call blocking app, Hiya. “It’s gotten to this sad state of the world where we don’t want to answer the phone anymore because scammers have pretty much overrun it.”
Hiya estimates more than 26 billion robocalls were made to U.S. phone numbers in 2018 but Nelson has reservations over Apple’s approach.
“The truth of it is there is a lot of good, legitimate reasons you might get a phone call from somebody you are not familiar with,” he says.
For example, a friend in trouble may be calling from a pay phone or borrowed handset. “It’s a very aggressive solution to what’s a very frustrating problem, and we hope what we can do instead is stop these scammers from succeeding so that the only calls that are made are calls that we have a legitimate interest in.”
Last October, Google introduced its own features inside the company’s Pixel phones to turn the table on spam callers and telemarketers.
Apple unveiled other privacy and security measures as part of iOS 13. Users will have more control over sharing location data with apps and photos, and can receive alerts when an app is using their location in the background.
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WWDC continues through the rest of the week in San Jose, California.
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