Call reporting function in iOS 12 may help Apple avoid iPhone ban in India

Posted:
in iPhone
The stand-off between Apple and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) may be ending, after Apple reportedly advised the regulator the company a method is on the way in iOS 12 to add a Do Not Disturb app on the country's iPhones, in order to avoid an iPhone ban on the country's mobile networks.




Apple has informed the regulator there may be an alternative way to allow spam-reporting apps onto iOS that the government body may agree with, as a way to solve the current disagreement, a source advised to Business Standard. The note to TRAI advises of a function in iOS 12 that would allow developers to create spam and nuisance call-reporting tools, that would abide by Indian regulations.

TRAI wants all smartphones in the country to include a Do Not Disturb app to their devices, that would allow smartphone users to report spam messages and calls, in an attempt to crack down on the problem. Apple had previously collaborated with the regulator on an app, but it has so far been reluctant to add the app to the App Store.

The source added the app developed with Apple could be made available to users before Diwali, which takes place in early November.

Apple has resisted introducing the app due to it violating the privacy policy of the App Store, as under App Store rules third-party apps are not allowed to see call logs or text messages, but are able to access saved contacts. Any India government mandated Do Not Disturb app would probably require the messages and logs for reporting purposes -- and it is not clear if Apple will concede this point.

Last week, TRAI implemented new regulations that would force carriers to remove smartphones from its network if they could not support Do Not Disturb apps. While not having the power to directly order Apple to comply, the regulation effectively gave Apple 6 months or face seeing the iPhones of its customers kicked off the country's mobile networks.

Arriving as part of iOS 12, Apple is enabling a way for developers to create such apps, with developer documentation advising how to take advantage of an "Unwanted Communication" extension in the Settings app. Under the function, users will be able to use a Report option in their recent calls and messages lists, which then hands off to the reporting app.

Given that major iOS releases typically arrive along with new iPhones, during or shortly after September, it is probable the SMS and Call Spam Reporting function of iOS 12 will be available for use before the app from the TRAI collaboration.

While Apple has seemingly dragged its feet in enabling the app, other smartphone producers haven't offered as much resistance. The Do Not Disturb app has been available to download to Android devices since 2016.

India continues to be an important country for Apple's future growth. Apple currently produces the iPhone SE in the country for regional sale, and is reportedly entering production of a second iPhone model for local sale, thought to be the iPhone 6s.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    Given how much of the spam-calls I receive are clearly from India, I can only imagine how much the locals get, no wonder they mandate anti-spam apps. 

    I do like to have fun with some of them tho, playing along with "brian from microsoft" for example who can apparently see I have a problem with my non-existent computer and will fix it free of charge if I visit a certain website allowing him access.
  • Reply 2 of 17
    adm1 said:
    Given how much of the spam-calls I receive are clearly from India, I can only imagine how much the locals get, no wonder they mandate anti-spam apps. 

    I do like to have fun with some of them tho, playing along with "brian from microsoft" for example who can apparently see I have a problem with my non-existent computer and will fix it free of charge if I visit a certain website allowing him access.
    I wonder if the rule Apple applies to not sharing call data are already violated from the carrier who is more than happy to sell your data. If that is so, then there is no reason not to allow better apps to combat spam calls. 

    I know in the past the phone companies used to sell caller id and then sell blocking numbers and then sell unblocking the blocked numbers, so it's not like any of the carriers really care about the number of spam calls you get. I mean unless you want to subscribe to a program they sell the block those numbers automatically.  
    gatorguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 17
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 364member
    Is it valid only for new phones? Otherwise all prior iPhone 5S devides are in danger anyway.
  • Reply 4 of 17
    croprcropr Posts: 863member
    adm1 said:
    Given how much of the spam-calls I receive are clearly from India, I can only imagine how much the locals get, no wonder they mandate anti-spam apps. 

    I do like to have fun with some of them tho, playing along with "brian from microsoft" for example who can apparently see I have a problem with my non-existent computer and will fix it free of charge if I visit a certain website allowing him access.
    I wonder if the rule Apple applies to not sharing call data are already violated from the carrier who is more than happy to sell your data. If that is so, then there is no reason not to allow better apps to combat spam calls. 

    I know in the past the phone companies used to sell caller id and then sell blocking numbers and then sell unblocking the blocked numbers, so it's not like any of the carriers really care about the number of spam calls you get. I mean unless you want to subscribe to a program they sell the block those numbers automatically.  
    Carriers do own the telephone number, it is their responsibility to allow or disallow the caller ID.  So a phone manufacturer has no authority whatsoever to impose such restrictions to the carrier.

    Being the owner the carrier has the right to publish telephone books and to ask money for it.  Even with the new GDPR rules in Europe, the carrier has no obligation to ask permission to the end user to use the number for commercial purposes.

  • Reply 5 of 17
    Steve Jobs once said that the killer app of the modern smartphone is the Phone app.  That being said, there are two fundamental issues that still prevent it from making that happen:

    1. iOS's method of blocking calls in the Phone app and via CallKit needs to be completely revamped. For starters, the native app has a rudimentary Blocked Callers list that is completely unorganized, not easily to manipulate, and worse, cannot be imported or exported. Sure, you can add every random number you get into a single "spam" contact, but even that in itself can get so unwieldy. So, when iOS 10 introduced CallKit, there was some hope, only to discover it's the equivalent of a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound with a chest rib protruding out of the skin. CallKit can block up to two million numbers per Phone app extension, so if you want to block an entire area code, you'd have to have apps like WideProtect has to add up to 15 extensions in order to block 30,000,000 phone numbers. A single incoming call or text would then have to parse through the entire list of databases before it comes through.

      What would really be a better solution? Implement a whitelist feature: only allow certain calls to come through based on your contacts or a specific list of possible callers. Is this a violation of FCC regulations? I don't think so, since Android users can do it with apps available on the Google Play Store. Who says that if you are given a ten-digit telephone number, it has to be reachable by anyone? Smartphones have made everyone more connected, but maybe we're too connected, which is why these privacy measures have been set up. But, if you think about how social media accounts are available, you can create a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account and set it to private, to which an outsider would have to request to follow you. Why can't that be the same with a cellular number? They could even include a list of unblockable numbers like "911" or "999."

      Flash back to February 2015 when rap singer Iggy Azalea placed an order at Papa John's. The delivery driver gave Iggy's personal cell phone number to his friend was a fan, who then started spamming her with messages. Iggy blasted Papa John's on Twitter over the lack of privacy and Papa John had to take action, with even T-Mobile getting in on the conversation when mentioned during the debacle unraveling on social media. All this would not have happened if either the phone, or its software, or the wireless carrier had implemented some sort of whitelist feature, as the spammer was not in a big database of known telemarketers, spammers, or fraudsters.

      Unwanted calls can be a thing of the past, if you could just let it. In fact, the entire telemarketing industry could finally be put in check with an implementation like this, since spammers and fraudsters don’t care about the FCC’s Do Not Call list, which is barely enforceable to begin with, and barely makes telemarketing companies accountable as well.

    2. A single, unwanted, incoming call completely still destroys the user experience. Over eleven years since the introduction of the iPhone, and this scenario is still, unbelievably, the same: You're in the middle of an app, or worse, recording an important event with your camera, and you get an incoming call. The Phone app not only takes focus, but it completely locks down your phone, and you can't get out until you choose either "Answer" or "Decline," among other minor options like send a message to the caller or remind you to call back. If you hit "Decline," it automatically sends the user to voicemail, and the caller immediately knows they've been ignored or unwanted. All this results in two very unhappy people: the caller and the person called.

      Two things need to change here: a. stop locking down the entire device for that incoming call. Allow the user to at least toggle back to the original app and finish up whatever they were in the middle of doing, to give the user additional time to decide if they still want that call, and b. Allow the "Decline" button to dismiss the screen and let the user get back to the original app they were in, but more importantly, let the incoming call still ring through to its normal timeout and eventually go into voicemail. This will possibly let the caller believe their call was just missed and not purposely ignored or unwanted.

    Others have argued that iOS' Do Not Disturb feature could be used to prevent unwanted incoming calls, but they easily forget that it also blocks all notifications from apps as well. Do Not Disturb could also therefore use its own set of tweaks and revamps, where the whitelist could be implemented, and/or could be more robust to include a timer (i.e. block for an hour), geofencing (i.e. when entering a movie theater or exiting their place of work), and/or weekends (who actually lives their lives identically across all seven days of the week?).

    All these changes are not difficult to implement, and I've been asking Apple for years to make this happen. Maybe CallKit and Do Not Disturb were their first implementations to my request, but they're still both very basic and very naive. With everything else in iOS getting more robust and more smart, they need to really take a fresh look at this area and address it for real this time around.
    edited July 30 elijahgwatto_cobradysamoria
  • Reply 6 of 17
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,940member
    cropr said:
    adm1 said:
    Given how much of the spam-calls I receive are clearly from India, I can only imagine how much the locals get, no wonder they mandate anti-spam apps. 

    I do like to have fun with some of them tho, playing along with "brian from microsoft" for example who can apparently see I have a problem with my non-existent computer and will fix it free of charge if I visit a certain website allowing him access.
    I wonder if the rule Apple applies to not sharing call data are already violated from the carrier who is more than happy to sell your data. If that is so, then there is no reason not to allow better apps to combat spam calls. 

    I know in the past the phone companies used to sell caller id and then sell blocking numbers and then sell unblocking the blocked numbers, so it's not like any of the carriers really care about the number of spam calls you get. I mean unless you want to subscribe to a program they sell the block those numbers automatically.  
    Carriers do own the telephone number, it is their responsibility to allow or disallow the caller ID.  So a phone manufacturer has no authority whatsoever to impose such restrictions to the carrier.

    Being the owner the carrier has the right to publish telephone books and to ask money for it.  Even with the new GDPR rules in Europe, the carrier has no obligation to ask permission to the end user to use the number for commercial purposes.

    Do carriers actually own the phone number anymore? When I changed carriers, I took my phone number with me. Does that mean that PacBell, then AT&T, then Verizon owned my phone number at different times or do they all own the same number and do with it as they want to?

    Not to challenge you but would you be able to provide documentation on your statement? It's always helpful when we can point to FCC rules or something similar to back up statements. It wouldn't surprise me if the carriers, both landline and cellular, are doing what you mention, I'd just like to know who gave them the power to do it so we have one more thing we can fight them about.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,726administrator
    frantisek said:
    Is it valid only for new phones? Otherwise all prior iPhone 5S devides are in danger anyway.
    Anything that is upgraded to iOS 12 will have the feature.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 17
    irelandireland Posts: 17,474member
    The SMS/Call Reporting function is fine, and should please the regulators. An extension app is still required to use said function though. So the government still needs an app there to be downloadable.
  • Reply 9 of 17
    irelandireland Posts: 17,474member
    frantisek said:
    Is it valid only for new phones? Otherwise all prior iPhone 5S devides are in danger anyway.
    They can’t retroactively require old phones like an iPhone 5 to add new features. And iPhone 5 is no longer sold by Apple in India.
    edited July 30 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,415member
    rob53 said:
    cropr said:
    adm1 said:
    Given how much of the spam-calls I receive are clearly from India, I can only imagine how much the locals get, no wonder they mandate anti-spam apps. 

    I do like to have fun with some of them tho, playing along with "brian from microsoft" for example who can apparently see I have a problem with my non-existent computer and will fix it free of charge if I visit a certain website allowing him access.
    I wonder if the rule Apple applies to not sharing call data are already violated from the carrier who is more than happy to sell your data. If that is so, then there is no reason not to allow better apps to combat spam calls. 

    I know in the past the phone companies used to sell caller id and then sell blocking numbers and then sell unblocking the blocked numbers, so it's not like any of the carriers really care about the number of spam calls you get. I mean unless you want to subscribe to a program they sell the block those numbers automatically.  
    Carriers do own the telephone number, it is their responsibility to allow or disallow the caller ID.  So a phone manufacturer has no authority whatsoever to impose such restrictions to the carrier.

    Being the owner the carrier has the right to publish telephone books and to ask money for it.  Even with the new GDPR rules in Europe, the carrier has no obligation to ask permission to the end user to use the number for commercial purposes.

    Do carriers actually own the phone number anymore? When I changed carriers, I took my phone number with me. Does that mean that PacBell, then AT&T, then Verizon owned my phone number at different times or do they all own the same number and do with it as they want to?
    https://www.t-mobile.com/switch/
    The number can be transferred (ported) to a new provider only if they have an agreement in place with the old provider who owned your number.

    As for what carriers can do with your number and the data that flows over their network from it:
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/us-cell-carriers-selling-access-to-real-time-location-data/
    ...but after the media began reporting this the carriers took a step back
    https://wtop.com/national/2018/06/apnewsbreak-verizon-to-end-some-sale-of-phone-location-data/

    Curious how this data sharing even happens without your permission? In some cases you gave your permission via daisy chaining. What's that mean? You granted permission to one who uses that permission (read your TOS guys) to extend it to 3rd parties, ofttimes several 3rd parties.  In other cases they don't even need your permission as it's allowed due to some nicely crafted omissions in FCC regulations. 
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-wireless-carriers-get-permission-to-share-your-whereabouts-1531659600
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171017/11071138421/wireless-carriers-again-busted-collecting-selling-user-data-without-consent-opt-out-tools.shtml
    edited July 30
  • Reply 11 of 17
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    India needs Apple more than Apple needs India.
  • Reply 12 of 17
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,073member
    This is such BS on the part of India...

    This whole nonsense of demanding DNC apps onto phones or be banned is the ultimate example of putting a bandaid onto a much larger issue, which is the Indian government could kill this problem themselves if they just started prosecuting the operators of the boiler rooms operating these phone scams, instead of demanding privacy-intruding and invasive apps from phone manufacturers, which I'm pretty sure these boiler room operators will soon figure out how to circumvent.

    Bottom line, India won't do this, because their government is corrupt, and these boiler rooms actually net the country a substantial income.

    With them, it's all about the money!
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,904member
    I use a program on my iPhone called "Hiya" which works pretty good at blocking Spam, Telemarketers, and other garbage out there. You can also report the numbers and list what it is. It's helped me greatly with all my Telemarketer calls. I'm getting a ton of them from company's trying to get me to sign up for Solar and other energy savings stuff here in California. I keep telling them to don't call me. Now most of the time I see Telemarketer and don't bother to answer.

    It could be even better, but it does work, at least somewhat. With them spoofing numbers, it can be hard, though it does at times tell you that on a call also. There is from free parts of it. But overall it's a yearly service cost. It's not much money. It's been working for me.
    edited July 30 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 17
    Maybe I am completely wrong here but hasn’t iOS had options for this that carriers have yet to even use?  Under Settings —> Phone, there are two options there for third party apps to snap-in and provide reporting and blocking options for users. I think they have been there since iOS 11 but even the apps from my carrier, AT&T, don’t use them.

    Am I missing something here?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 17
    adbeadbe Posts: 15member
    nunzy said:
    India needs Apple more than Apple needs India.

    India does not need Apple at all.  Apple, on the other hand, definitely needs a billion plus market.
    nunzy
  • Reply 16 of 17
    adbeadbe Posts: 15member

    Maybe I am completely wrong here but hasn’t iOS had options for this that carriers have yet to even use?  Under Settings —> Phone, there are two options there for third party apps to snap-in and provide reporting and blocking options for users. I think they have been there since iOS 11 but even the apps from my carrier, AT&T, don’t use them.

    Am I missing something here?

    That framework does not meet the requirements that the Indian government have laid out.  There are a few apps in the app store that use that API; I've had a small amount of success with nomorobo for example.  What you can do with it is quite limited though, and as you might expect, iOS gives the app a very short window in which to decline a call.   
  • Reply 17 of 17
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,859member
    Steve Jobs once said that the killer app of the modern smartphone is the Phone app.  That being said, there are two fundamental issues that still prevent it from making that happen:

    1. iOS's method of blocking calls in the Phone app and via CallKit needs to be completely revamped. For starters, the native app has a rudimentary Blocked Callers list that is completely unorganized, not easily to manipulate, and worse, cannot be imported or exported. Sure, you can add every random number you get into a single "spam" contact, but even that in itself can get so unwieldy. So, when iOS 10 introduced CallKit, there was some hope, only to discover it's the equivalent of a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound with a chest rib protruding out of the skin. CallKit can block up to two million numbers per Phone app extension, so if you want to block an entire area code, you'd have to have apps like WideProtect has to add up to 15 extensions in order to block 30,000,000 phone numbers. A single incoming call or text would then have to parse through the entire list of databases before it comes through.

      What would really be a better solution? Implement a whitelist feature: only allow certain calls to come through based on your contacts or a specific list of possible callers. Is this a violation of FCC regulations? I don't think so, since Android users can do it with apps available on the Google Play Store. Who says that if you are given a ten-digit telephone number, it has to be reachable by anyone? Smartphones have made everyone more connected, but maybe we're too connected, which is why these privacy measures have been set up. But, if you think about how social media accounts are available, you can create a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account and set it to private, to which an outsider would have to request to follow you. Why can't that be the same with a cellular number? They could even include a list of unblockable numbers like "911" or "999."

      Flash back to February 2015 when rap singer Iggy Azalea placed an order at Papa John's. The delivery driver gave Iggy's personal cell phone number to his friend was a fan, who then started spamming her with messages. Iggy blasted Papa John's on Twitter over the lack of privacy and Papa John had to take action, with even T-Mobile getting in on the conversation when mentioned during the debacle unraveling on social media. All this would not have happened if either the phone, or its software, or the wireless carrier had implemented some sort of whitelist feature, as the spammer was not in a big database of known telemarketers, spammers, or fraudsters.

      Unwanted calls can be a thing of the past, if you could just let it. In fact, the entire telemarketing industry could finally be put in check with an implementation like this, since spammers and fraudsters don’t care about the FCC’s Do Not Call list, which is barely enforceable to begin with, and barely makes telemarketing companies accountable as well.

    2. A single, unwanted, incoming call completely still destroys the user experience. Over eleven years since the introduction of the iPhone, and this scenario is still, unbelievably, the same: You're in the middle of an app, or worse, recording an important event with your camera, and you get an incoming call. The Phone app not only takes focus, but it completely locks down your phone, and you can't get out until you choose either "Answer" or "Decline," among other minor options like send a message to the caller or remind you to call back. If you hit "Decline," it automatically sends the user to voicemail, and the caller immediately knows they've been ignored or unwanted. All this results in two very unhappy people: the caller and the person called.

      Two things need to change here: a. stop locking down the entire device for that incoming call. Allow the user to at least toggle back to the original app and finish up whatever they were in the middle of doing, to give the user additional time to decide if they still want that call, and b. Allow the "Decline" button to dismiss the screen and let the user get back to the original app they were in, but more importantly, let the incoming call still ring through to its normal timeout and eventually go into voicemail. This will possibly let the caller believe their call was just missed and not purposely ignored or unwanted.

    Others have argued that iOS' Do Not Disturb feature could be used to prevent unwanted incoming calls, but they easily forget that it also blocks all notifications from apps as well. Do Not Disturb could also therefore use its own set of tweaks and revamps, where the whitelist could be implemented, and/or could be more robust to include a timer (i.e. block for an hour), geofencing (i.e. when entering a movie theater or exiting their place of work), and/or weekends (who actually lives their lives identically across all seven days of the week?).

    All these changes are not difficult to implement, and I've been asking Apple for years to make this happen. Maybe CallKit and Do Not Disturb were their first implementations to my request, but they're still both very basic and very naive. With everything else in iOS getting more robust and more smart, they need to really take a fresh look at this area and address it for real this time around.
    Exactly right. The thing is, carriers don't want to let consumers kill call centers. It's huge business for carriers. Consumers aren't in control of the market. The state of this particular industry is one perfect example of why.
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