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Google Voice now filters out unwanted calls, thanks to update

Why it matters to you

Google Voice is a useful tool that was ignored for too long, but with January's major update and its new anti-spam measures, it's now more powerful than ever.

The major update that hit Google Voice back in January was mostly aesthetic, as it brought the app up to date with the company’s Material Design standard, but didn’t add much in the way of new features. Many of those faithful to the long-running call forwarding service were just excited to see it get any attention from Google at all, after being largely ignored for a number of years. Fortunately, Google is keeping the updates coming with the announcement of improved spam filtering for Voice users.

Last summer, Google took the initiative of adding anti-spam features to Nexus, Pixel, and Android One phones, allowing your device to warn you if you were receiving a ring from a “suspected spam caller.” Now, Google Voice is receiving the same functionality.

These measures have resulted in twice as many caught spammers, 20 percent fewer spam reports from customers, and 40 percent more calls correctly identified as spam, according to Google. The steps to enable spam filtering in Voice have been laid out on the company’s support site.

Previously, many of Voice’s features were added, over time, to Hangouts. Hangouts began as a messaging and internet-based calling app designed for regular users, but in recent months Google has decided to re-purpose it for enterprise customers. As a result, the app has dropped longstanding features like SMS support, and Google is propping up Voice to be its replacement for calling features — several years after it replaced Voice.

All the features that made Voice groundbreaking back when it launched more than seven long years ago are still on board, such as the ability to text from the same number from any device, including your computer; voicemail transcription, and call recording. That last one in particular is still shockingly absent as a stock feature on smartphones, and Google’s app remains one of the only free and convenient ways to do it.