Apple Added an Anti-Robocall Feature to iOS 13 (in a Not-So-Useful Way)

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The cellular industry’s SHAKEN and STIR protocols will help fight robocalls; but at this point, they won’t be all that useful for iPhone users.

  • SHAKEN/STIR is essentially an authentication system that can verify whether or not a call is legitimate (originating from the number that it appears to be from).
  • While it won’t automatically block unverified calls, it can help users identify whether a call is being spoofed by a robocaller or spam caller.

Currently, AT&T and T-Mobile have both adopted the SHAKEN/STIR protocols — which bodes well for customers of those networks. Apple has done its part by adding support for SHAKEN/STIR in iOS 13.

Unfortunately, Apple’s implementation of SHAKEN/STIR in iOS 13 is far from ideal. In fact, as The Verge notes, it pretty much makes the system fairly useless for screening calls before you pick up the phone.

The point of SHAKEN/STIR is to allow users to quickly determine whether a caller is actually who they say they are. On Android, this is done by a Caller Verified tag that appears when a call is coming in.

But in iOS 13, you’ll only be able to see whether a call has been verified after the call has ended. Apple doesn’t show any verification text on the call screen.

Instead, you’ll need to go to the Phone app and tap on the Recents tab. Verified calls will have a small checkmark next to them.

[Sick and Tired of Robocalls? This App Can Block Them Better Than the FCC]

It’s not clear why Apple has introduced SHAKEN/STIR in this way. Similarly, it’s unclear if the Cupertino tech giant is eventually going to add a more useful implementation of the protocol.

A T-Mobile spokesperson told The Verge that they’re hoping Apple “will change this” in the future.

Of course, iOS 13 does have a new feature that will keep calls from ringing your device at all. The new Silence Unknown Callers sends any number not in Messages, Mail or Contacts straight to voicemail. That won’t work for all users, but it could be a useful way to reduce most if not all robocalls without an extra app.

Presumably, once a call is blocked by Silence Unknown Callers, you’ll be able to see whether or not they’re a verified caller using the SHAKEN/STIR protocol in Voicemail or Recents.

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