We all know the frustration of answering a phone call, only to discover a scammer or a spammer on the other end of the line. But our cries for change haven’t fallen on deaf ears; Apple has finally taken action to stop scammers in their tracks.
At the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple revealed that its newest iOS 13 software update will come with a feature designed to block robocallers from reaching your phone.
“I think it reflects how frustrated people are,” Notes Jonathon Nelson, the director of project management for 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, a call-blocking app, notes that over 26 billion robocalls were made in the United States just last year.
Apple’s update works by only allowing known numbers to make your phone ring. If an unknown caller tries to reach you, it will be automatically sent to voicemail. Should the caller leave a voicemail, you’ll get a transcription of the call from Apple and decide whether or not to call the number back.
This is vital for residential and business phone users, alike. While new businesses can lower startup costs by 90% when they switch to a hosted VoIP, they may still have to cope with the occasional robocaller. Along with giving your employees more than a few headaches, this type of scam can also lower your business’ efficiency.
After all, more than 46% of customers still prefer speaking to an actual business representative over automated responses. If customers are unable to reach staff because of business calls, this could seriously affect conversion rates or reflect poorly on your business.
This new announcement comes on the heels of the FCC’s new rule that phone companies are permitted to block robocallers. In a vote of five to zero, the unanimous decision enables phone companies to enroll customers in default robo-blocking programs unless they specifically opt out.
“If there is one thing in our country right now that unites Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, socialists and libertarians, vegetarians and carnivores, Ohio State and Michigan fans, it is that they are sick and tired of being bombarded by unwanted robocalls,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We hear you and we are on your side.”
But unlike Apple’s recent announcement, this doesn’t mean that all phone companies will offer this feature for free.
A recent report notes that Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile will all offer these features, but at a cost. T-Mobile’s Scam ID is free, but the Name ID feature can cost up to $4 per month. On top of that, phone companies don’t have to follow this policy in the first place. It merely grants them the ability to do so.
Of course, Apple’s new policy comes with a few flaws.
Though this software is great for mitigating the number of phone calls from robocallers, it also ascertains that most other numbers also won’t be able to reach you promptly. This includes friends who have to borrow someone else’s phones, potential job opportunities you forgot to add into your contacts, and other once-off calls that you may be waiting for. For the 96% of people who value their vacation time, getting calls from foreign numbers while abroad might prove problematic.
Of course, users have the ability to turn off this feature. Regardless, advancements in this type of technology have the potential to deter scammers and robocallers from extending their reach.