Technology

How to use Google Duplex, Call Screen, and Hold for Me


You can turn on the feature in the phone app under Settings> Spam & Call Screen> Call Screen. From here, if you have enabled automatic call checking, then when you receive a phone call from certain phone numbers, your phone will not ring and you will instead receive a silent notification informing you that Google is currently scanning a phone call.

What kind of phone numbers will be scanned? It’s up to you. Generally, anyone in your contacts should call you, but there are four categories of calls that you can check in advance: spam, “likely fake numbers” (Google is supposed to use its fancy tech to find this out), and numbers. Phones calling you for the first time, private or hidden numbers. For each of these categories, you can choose to either allow them to call your phone (more on this option below) or display the call and allow Google to reject automated callers on your behalf.

Depending on the amount of your phone calls, you should weigh each of these options carefully. Google’s system isn’t perfect – as mentioned above, Google has classified legitimate phone calls from Comcast about my service as spam before – and even when it works, you can forget that you turned it on and turned it down or withheld a call it should have taken.

In my particular case, I once checked a phone call from an interview person whose number was not saved in my phone. They had never encountered the Google Call screen before, and they assumed they called the wrong number and hung up. Because my phone didn’t ring, I missed it until it was too late for the interview. The distance covered may vary, but if you regularly make a lot of important phone calls, you may want to consider an alternative way to use the call screen.

Or: manually check phone calls

If you prefer not to hand over too much control to Google, manual call checking is a great option. You don’t have to do anything special to activate this. Instead, when you receive a phone call, you’ll have an extra button. On top of being able to answer or reject the call, you can ask Google to check the call on your behalf.

When this happens, Google will ask the person at the other end of the line to identify themselves for you. His answer will then be transcribed into a text for you, which you can read as it is said. The feature will present you with options for basic follow-up questions, and if it seems that the call is not worth your time, you can press the red end option and Google will inform the other person that you are unavailable before ending the call.

However, at any time, you can answer the call and receive from Google. You’ll never be trapped waiting for Google to finish a sentence, and you’ll be instantly connected to the person on the other end. This is perhaps Google’s most useful calling feature, as it lets you filter out robotic or telemarketers calls. Although legitimate callers can still feel overwhelmed, the feature is generally self-explanatory well enough for the person calling you so that they get how to interact with it and reach you without too much of a problem.

Let Google keep waiting for you

Waiting is the worst. But if the customer support line is going to use an automated system to keep you waiting until it’s ready for you, why not use the same tactics yourself? Hold for Me is a feature of Google Phone that listens to the other side of the phone call (don’t listen through the microphone) and determines when a customer service agent picks up the phone, at which point it will ring to let you know you can continue the call.

With permission from Google

Like manual call sorting, this is incredibly handy without being too cumbersome to use. While keeping this feature, a live copy of whatever is said will appear on your phone. This helps ensure that you don’t miss anything important, without asking for your attention. Overall, it seems to be very good at knowing when to put you back on line. If, for example, the automated system needs more information from you to proceed via the support tree, your phone will also ring.



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