It’s quite aggravating, having to run across the room to address a ringing phone, just to find out that it was actually a spam call. 4.5 billion spam calls were made in June 2018, which is nearly 18 spam calls per person. It’s not hard to figure out why spam calls may have ranked top in the number of complaints filed to the Federal Trade Commission in 2017. A grand total of 7,157,370 complaints were made against robocalls and telemarketers. Looking at these numbers it’s evident that the users aren’t happy but thankfully, Apple gets that. (source)
The iPhone maker has come up with a new software patent, that could help cancel out robocalls and spams, and notify the users for “a spoofing caller”. Filed back in 2017, the patent was made public Thursday, last week, and talks about a system that would let the phone examine a phone call for its legitimacy. The mobile device is claimed to check parameters using some templates that will evaluate the consistency of the invitation (incoming call), with respect to a database in the mobile device. These templates include session protocol, network topology, routing, and social templates.
The patent further describes what it means by a “Spoofed call” - fundamentally a spam call. "An example of a spoofed message is one in which a person with bad intentions, a 'spoofing caller,' or a machine under the control of the spoofing caller, pushes forward a financial scam by inserting a caller ID value in the message that the called party will trust," the patent says. (source)
It also explains that the caller could be associated with law enforcement, an electric company, or even a family relative of the called party. The spoofing caller may also try to induce the called party to some financial action which may prove out to be damaging. In some countries, this is a common problem faced by everyday users of mobile devices.
The aftermath of a situation in which it is determined that the call is spoof is also explained in the patent - "If the result of the evaluation is that the message is spoofed or the likelihood that the message is spoofed is substantial, then a warning is provided to the called party,". In some cases, a media session (connecting the call) may be commenced at the called party’s discretion, after the warning. (source)
This is a very important patent, taking in viewpoint the prevalence of spam calls in the recent years. The number is only expected to grow, as First Orion points out that by 2019, it is expected that nearly half of all U.S. mobile traffic would be spam calls.
First Orion CEO Charles D. Morgan noted that the Federal Communications Commission has partnered with several technology companies, including First Orion to ward off spam calls, but "we still see rampant increases" as scammers become increasingly more sophisticated and "invade our privacy at new extremes.”
Spam call blocking is one domain in which Google has always had an edge over Apple. The google Pixel phones already have an impressive system devised to block spam calls, and now with their latest baby, the Pixel 3, they are about to go a notch further. Google has added another layer of security, which would let the google assistant address and screen questionable calls for the use, deciphering the call in real time, which will make the whole reporting and blocking the number task much more convenient.
Apple doesn’t claim to be on the same grounds as Google, nor do we know whether the patent would see the light of day, but it certainly will be better than what the iphone users currently have - relying on their phone carriers (paying extra sometimes) to safeguard their phones from the spammers.