It never fails. You're in the middle of dinner and the phone rings. You sprint to answer it, and the call turns out to be some telemarketer wanting to sell you anti-wedgie underwear or something. Unfortunately for them, the Internet, or specifically Google, is one step ahead of them.
You may be familiar with Google Voice, but if not, it's essentially Gmail for your phone: it receives all incoming calls, rings every phone you have to guarantee you'll pick up, and if you miss a call for some reason, it automatically transcribes the voicemail for you. If that sounds pretty convenient, that's because it is. Even better, this being Google, it's free except for calls outside the US and Canada.
So, how did they implement a spam filter
for phone calls and text messages? The same way they come up with any spam filter: Google collected all the complaints from users and created a database of annoyance numbers. Sadly, Google Airstrike is still in beta, so they settled for creating a phone number blacklist. One check box, and you have complete freedom from calls trying to sell you on “vacation discounts,” texts trying to sell you ringtones, and anything else that annoys you.
The one downside? It's a reactive filter, meaning you'll still occasionally get an unwanted text. But now, instead of having to take the annoyance, you can make it go away with a click of a button. It's not quite Google Airstrike, but it's still really satisfying.Photo: B2M Productions/Getty Images