The logo of Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in New York City
Google has started beta testing for new Pixel Call Screen with conversational AI. Reuters

Google has started beta testing for an enhanced version of Pixel Call Screen, probably with conversational AI. This beta is expected to boast a slew of upgraded capabilities.

According to Google, the Call Screen feature comes in handy for finding out who is calling and why before you pick a call. Moreover, the search giant says the feature works on your device without using Wi-Fi or mobile data.

The feature enables Pixel phone owners to automatically decline people whose number is included in Google's spam database. Notably, the beta program was announced on May 15 in a bid to deliver an improved user experience and minimise robocalls.

Improving spam call management by streamlining Call Screen protection levels

It is also worth noting that this Call Screen beta has two aspects, including an update to the settings UI. Users got access to new "Protection level" options with simplified settings towards the end of May. They can now choose between three options including Basic, Medium, and Maximum.

As a result, users can customise their call screening preferences. However, the most notable update in this beta is the addition of natural-sounding voice prompts. This feature allows you to identify who's calling and why.

Google is testing the aforesaid feature with Pixel 6 and newer Pixel phone owners in the United States. Interestingly, this functionality requires Google's AI chipset, Tensor. This is a major sign that the company is planning to use AI with this functionality.

The American tech giant recently modified its privacy policy that suggests it will scrape everything you post online to improve its AI tools. Currently, Google's ultimate goal is to reduce the frequency of spam calls and improve Call Screen capabilities.

So, it is safe to say that the company's beta program is sparing no effort to provide users with more control and peace of mind. Google had previously indicated that it is planning to expand Pixel Call Screen capabilities with multi-step, multi-turn conversational AI in 2023.

It initially looked like this development is linked to the upcoming Pixel 8 and LLMs (large language models). However, the beta announcement confirms that older devices with Tensor chips will also take advantage of these advancements.

Google is also inviting users to provide feedback by using the "Help Us Improve" feedback button in their Phone by Google app whenever it appears in the Recents tab. The tech behemoth will be sharing more updates about the project in the coming months.

While you can screen calls automatically on all Pixel phones in the US, you can screen calls manually on Pixel handsets in these countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • UK
  • US

Manual Call Screen is available in Canada and the US on selected Android devices. However, the feature only works with a SIM card from the countries where Call Screen is supported. Furthermore, Google is reportedly testing an "animated emoji" feature in its instant messaging app, Google Messages.

Google Messages set to get an animated emoji feature

In their latest post, Reddit user BruthaBeige pointed out that animations don't work when you send more than one emoji or send a combination of text and emoji. The folks at Android Police suggest you can trigger the animation only by sending one emoji.

Aside from this, Android expert Mishaal Rahman also seems to have received a tip on the new animated emoji feature. Apparently, a user in the comments section has confirmed its existence. Regrettably, the feature isn't live for everyone at the moment.

In other words, it seems to be a region-restricted rollout. Google is expected to divulge more key details about animated emoji when it is available for all Messages users.

Google recently added a new badge for RCS chats to the app. Also, the company expanded direct replies for those using the web version of Messages. As if that weren't enough, Google recently upgraded Google Maps to work on phones and Android Auto at the same time.