Among the list of things that appeared in the third beta of iOS 14 this week, some who have dug into the beta have already found a new option in their iPhone settings that could herald a better way of dealing with spam callers and robocalls, and now it looks like Verizon is already poised to take advantage of this latest call management feature.
Some Verizon users running iOS 14 beta 3 have noticed a new option, “Silence Junk Callers” appearing under Call Blocking & Identification in the Phone section of the iPhone Settings app, with an explanation that indicates that “calls identified by Verizon as potential spam or fraud will be silenced and automatically sent to voicemail.”
Although it wasn’t previously clear exactly how Verizon identifies these calls, it appears that it’s designed to work in tandem with the Call Filter app that the carrier announced last year. The app already allows robocalls and other spammy callers to be identified on the incoming call screen thanks to new incoming call extension features that Apple added back in iOS 10, letting users know when an incoming call is suspect, but it couldn’t do much to prevent the call from actually coming through — until now, that is.
How It Works
Verizon’s Call Filter app already works on the SHAKEN/STIR authentication technology that U.S. carriers have been putting together as a way to identify spam callers across multiple carrier networks. Basically, SHAKEN/STIR, which stands for “Signature-based Handling of Asserted information” and “Secure Telephony Identity Revisited” looks at incoming calls to verify whether the number they’re purporting to be coming from is the number they’re acutally coming from.
You see, it’s actually quite easy to spoof Caller ID. Business-grade “trunk” lines used by big companies have supported this for years, usually assign either the company’s main incoming number or a specific employees direct phone number to outgoing calls. This capability has also expended to many inexpensive VoIP services for similar reasons, since they’re often used by business customers as well.
However, because they’re so easily spoofed, spammers and robocallers do this all the time, making it a great way to identify them. After all, they’re not ever likely to call you from a number that can be too easily traced back to them.
Thanks to this new switch in iOS 14, however, users have the option of taking those calls that are identified as robocalls and spam by Call Filter and automatically sending them to voicemail without ringing your phone.
In actual use, it works just like the “Silence Unknown Callers” feature that was added in iOS 13 last year, except it’s far more discriminating. As the name implied, Silence Unknown Callers would simply block anybody whose number couldn’t be found in Contacts, Mail, or Messages. This could result in a lot of legitimate missed calls, so many folks were reluctant to switch it on.
By contrast, Silence Junk Callers will handle the calls in the exact same way — sending them straight to voicemail without ever ringing your iPhone — but it will only do this for calls that have been positively identified as likely to be spammers or robocallers.
How Can I Get It?
Verizon notes that when iOS 14 launches this fall, it will be offering the feature to all users of the Call Filter app, both free and paid.
However, those who want to give it a spin right now can download the iOS 14 public beta, where Verizon is making it available for subscribers on its paid Call Filter Plus plan ($2.99/month for one line, or $7.99/month for multiple lines on a single account).