Mobile

Google’s Android Phone app now shows verified business callers

Google is bringing a new call verification feature to its Android Phone app, enabling businesses to confirm their identity and communicate a reason for their call — before the recipient answers.

The launch comes amid a surge in phone-based scams related to COVID-19. More broadly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed that phone calls were the “number one way people reported being contacted by scammers” in 2019. Given the growing awareness around nefarious callers, people are less inclined to answer their phone if they don’t recognize a number, which is where Google’s new Verified Calls feature comes into play.

Companies that regularly make outbound calls to customers can register with any of Google’s partner organizations — such as Neustar, Five9, Vonage, or JustCall — that have access to the Verified Calls API. Businesses can supply their number, name, and logo, which will then appear on the end user’s screen when their phone rings. Companies can also provide a reason for the call, meaning a bank can state that it is checking on a potentially fraudulent transaction and a food delivery company can tell a customer they need to discuss a problem with their order.

This before (left) and after (right) comparison shows the difference between a typical non-verified call and a verified call.

Above: Google’s new Verified Calls feature (right)

Standalone

The Google Phone app comes preinstalled on many Android phones, though Google has been slowly opening things to more devices via a standalone beta app that can be downloaded from the Play store. The company confirmed today that it will be officially launching the app later this week for a limited number of devices running Android Pie and higher, and it plans to expand availability to devices with more “customized Android implementations” once it has monitored initial user feedback.

It’s worth noting that the Google Phone app already ships with a number of features designed to thwart scammers and spammers, including the ability to block specific numbers and display warning alerts. However, Verified Calls aims to bring a little more trust to weary consumers who are sick of battling robocalls and telemarketers — by seeing instantly which business is calling, and their reason for doing so, this helps ensure that legitimate calls don’t go unanswered.

Call verification has been tested for the past few months, kicking off with a pilot in Brazil, and a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat that early results indicate that the improvement in answer rates “has been pretty significant,” though it stopped short of divulging specific metrics.

Verified Calls follows a host of similar features that Google has implemented in its products elsewhere, including “verified SMS” which launched for the Android Messages app last year. And a few months back, Google introduced a new pilot program that aims to bring verified brand logos to Gmail.

Verified Calls will be available first in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Spain, and India, with more countries added to the mix in the coming months.

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