Truecaller adds a new AI feature to further detect and block spam calls.

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Image credit: Jagmeet Singh / TechCrunch

Caller ID app Truecaller today blocks 38 to 40 billion spam calls annually for its 374 million+ users. Now, hoping to sign more people up to its premium tiers, it’s turning the dials on its filtering tech. A new “Max” update for Android Premium subscribers uses AI to block every call that doesn’t come from an approved contact, or that its AI determines to be spam, TechCrunch has learned. is, even if they are not already registered on Truecaller. Databases Previously, blocking and other actions were guided by how numbers were entered into databases, with active screening of the individual.

The update is for Android only: Apple doesn’t allow Truecaller (or other caller ID services) to check the spammer status of callers to automatically block calls on iOS. Thus, Truecaller has a more basic service for iPhone users based around CallKit.

The moves come at a critical business moment for the company. In Q4, Truecaller saw a 4% year-over-year revenue decline, at $41.52 million in sales. Meanwhile, in India – Truecaller’s largest market with 259 million users – the Indian telecom regulator recently proposed a Truecaller-like caller ID service, which will be rolled out worldwide. All Telecom networks in the country to better deal with spam. Currently, the proposal has seen opposition on privacy and technology grounds, but if implemented, it would pose a direct competitive threat to Truecaller.

The new feature underscores how Truecaller believes business opportunities can be banking on people fed up with the insidious ways of spammers — even if it comes at the cost of missing calls from unknown numbers and non-spammers. Which is actually welcome.

Truecaller is also banking on the current interest in all things AI: Caller ID and spam protection are two of Truecaller’s core features, and it’s betting that any concerns about AI can be balanced by that curiosity. How well it can serve Truecaller’s core function… while also increasing premium signups in the process.

Premium tiers of the app range between $9.99 per month and $99.99 per year, depending on factors such as number of users.

The new feature is also indicative of how Truecaller is playing with ways to bring in more active automation — and then expect less active engagement from users themselves. Truecaller has always offered subscribers a list of all the calls they can potentially block, including international, hidden and unknown numbers that aren’t listed in the user’s contacts. But to get the best out of the app, users have to engage and tweak their lists. Now, everything from ID will be blocked by default.

“This is something that, at least, some people have asked for — people who understand the app well,” Kunal Dua, vice president of search at Truecaller, claimed in a call.

This isn’t the first AI feature in Truecaller: it provides an AI assistant that screens calls to identify why the caller dialed the user. (Other non-AI features include cloud telephony and call recording.)

AI Powering Max has been in the works for some time. Truecaller is testing “several dozen algorithms” across its markets to identify spam numbers, and each of those machine learning algorithms is also learning from user feedback, Dua said.

But rolling out the service to iOS users at Apple will require a significant change. Last year, Truecaller brought Live Caller ID support to iOS, though it’s more limited and iPhone users have to go through a Live Caller ID setup process.

It will be interesting to see how users react to the exhaustive nature of this feature which can sometimes lead to errors. The app currently warns users that the feature “may block legitimate business.” However, Dua said the system is expected to improve over time as it receives more spam call data.

“Obviously, we do our best to distinguish between spam and legitimate business. But there may be cases where some legitimate business may be temporary. [blocked]”He said. “We want to be sure that this is temporary in front of our community, and before our AI algorithms can identify that this is a legitimate business… we have a lot of confidence that If we’re calling someone a spammer, it’s very, very likely, 99.999 times out of 100.

Users can unblock a number if it is wrongly flagged as spam by its machine learning algorithm, which also helps train AI.

After updating the Truecaller app to v13.58 or later, users can find the new spam blocking feature by going to Settings > Block.

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