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Google could be working on a shared phone number blocklist for Android

Blocked numbers could soon be blocked across calls and texts, and may even be shared with other apps.
By
December 4, 2023
Stock photo of Phone by Google app on phone next to home phone agenda and pen 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Code within the Phone by Google app suggests that Google could be working on a shared phone number blocklist for Android.
  • The Phone by Google app could soon block both calls and texts by using this shared phone number blocklist as part of a “new, simplified blocking” solution.
  • Users could get an option to receive voicemails or auto-delete them as well.

We’ve all been in situations where we need to block a spammer or harasser. There are plenty of solutions available to block calls on Android, and you can do the same with text messages, too. But so far, you have to choose to block a phone call and a test message separately, and you probably have to do it across separate apps. Further, if you change your phones, there’s a good chance that these blocklists do not migrate, leaving you susceptible to the same cycle of harassment all over again. Google appears to be working to change that with a simplified blocking solution.

An APK teardown helps predict features that may arrive on a service in the future based on work-in-progress code. However, it is possible that such predicted features may not make it to a public release.

Phone by Google app, popularly known as the Google Phone app, includes a few interesting strings. These strings are present in v118 and v117 (and possibly in even earlier versions), but Google seems to have removed them from v119 and v120. While that doesn’t always mean that the feature is completely removed, it does mean that there could be more changes or delays before the functionality goes live.

Nevertheless, here are the strings from the Google Phone app v118:

Code
<string name="migrate_blocked_numbers_dialog_allow_button">Allow</string>
<string name="migrate_blocked_numbers_dialog_cancel_button">@android:string/cancel</string>
<string name="migrate_blocked_numbers_dialog_message">To better protect you, Phone needs to change how blocking works. Your blocked numbers will now stop both calls and texts and may be shared with other apps.</string>
<string name="migrate_blocked_numbers_dialog_title">New, simplified blocking</string>

The above strings indicate that Google is working on a new “simplified blocking” solution. This solution will block both calls and texts when you add a number to the block list. The blocklist will also be shared with other apps.

The string family rests under the “migrate” branch, indicating that you could use the blocklist across Android phones. This is built further by some of the following strings:

Code
<string name="block_list">Blocked numbers</string>
<string name="block_number_confirmation_message_new_filtering">You will no longer receive calls or texts from this number.</string>
<string name="block_number_confirmation_message_no_vvm">Calls from this number will be blocked, but the caller may still be able to leave you voicemails.</string>
<string name="block_number_confirmation_message_vvm">Calls from this number will be blocked and voicemails will be automatically deleted.</string>
<string name="block_number_confirmation_title">Block %1$s?</string>
<string name="block_report_number_alert_details">You will no longer receive calls or texts from this number.</string>
<string name="block_report_number_alert_title">Block %1$s?</string>
<string name="blocked_call_settings_import_button">Import</string>
<string name="blocked_call_settings_import_description">You previously marked some callers to be automatically sent to voicemail via other apps.</string>
<string name="blocked_call_settings_view_numbers_button">View Numbers</string>

There are strings for an “import” functionality, which would open up the blocklist across other apps and, by extension, other Android phones. The Google Phone app could give you a choice to either block calls and send the caller to voicemail or block the voicemails by having them auto-deleted.

Having a common and shared blocklist that all apps could read from would be extremely helpful in dealing with spammers and harassers. It would need participation from other apps to succeed, but not having to individually block texts and calls would help when a spammer or harasser is flooding you.

It is currently unknown if the presumed shared blocklist would be shared beyond calling and texting apps, such as instant messaging and social media apps. However, if extended this far ahead, the feature would need more granularity to allow blocking on some platforms without blocking on others.