Truecaller brings live Caller ID to iPhone… but with a catch

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Truecaller is a well-known name in the app market worldwide – thanks to its namesake caller identification service. The active user base today stands at 338 million, but it could be bigger: a lack of a Caller ID feature on iOS has arguably curbed growth among iPhone users. Now, in a bid to expand its reach, the Stockholm-based company is rolling out an update that will finally bring live caller ID support on iOS, available to people using the paid tiers.

The new feature comes as Truecaller continues to see a lot of growth, but also some bumps in its strongest markets. The app is one of the most popular among mobile users in markets such as India, where spammers target the masses. Still, the company has drawn criticism for how it collects data for its caller ID service.

Last year, an investigation by Indian magazine The Caravan claimed that Truecaller “consists of details collected without permission”. However, the company denied the allegations, claiming that the investigation was flawed and based on incorrect information.

The new caller ID feature is only offered to users who are on the premium tiers of the app (priced at a range of tiers ranging from $0.99 per month per person to $4.99/month when the carrier of a user is not supported and $9.99/month for family plans, with discounts on annual plans).

And it won’t be like it is on Android: unlike the seamless experience available on that platform — users instantly see a caller ID when they receive an incoming call — the iPhone experience will involve a step that requires interaction with Siri required.

Nakul Kabra, product director for iOS at Truecaller, told AapkaDost that the app has limited experience on the iPhone due to how Apple works with third-party caller ID apps.

The current framework for identifying calls in Truecaller is limited to a finite sequence of numbers stored in folders in Apple’s CallKit framework, chosen by Truecaller’s spam algorithm. That means other numbers not stored locally must be looked up manually, he said.

To use the new feature, Truecaller subscribers on an iPhone running iOS 16 or later can access live caller ID support by saying, “Hey Siri, find Truecaller.” This allows Siri to capture the number that appears on the screen, search for it in the app, and then show the result to the user.

The feature uses Apple’s Siri Shortcuts and App Intents to deliver the expected live caller ID experience.

That means users must first enable the Search Truecaller shortcut on their iPhone by pressing the Add to Siri option in the Premium tab. The first time the shortcut is run, it prompts the user to allow Truecaller to search from the screenshots the shortcut captures.

“We’ve been tinkering with App Intents for the past few months since iOS 16 was publicly launched… Previous iterations didn’t have the right experience to be used in the context of a live call. One of the more recent iterations is what has evolved into this feature,” Kabra said.

Truecaller Live Caller ID on iPhone

Image Credits: Jagmeet Singh/AapkaDost

Users with more recent iPhones, including the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, have the option to access the feature without having to say the Siri phrase and tap the back of their handset instead. To do this, they need to enable the Search Truecaller shortcut from the Back Tap gesture settings.

With this update, Truecaller has also doubled the size of the CallKit directory and improved the spam detection algorithm to ensure that spam, scam and fraud calls are more accurately identified.

“This improved directory ensures that most top spam and verified business calls can be identified instantly, even without Siri having to ask. However, given the limitations of the platform, we cannot identify all calls using the traditional call list mechanism. This is where the new Live Caller ID comes in and makes sure you can identify every call,” said Kabra.

The company also says that premium users’ spam lists are updated daily. Meanwhile, free users only have the option to manually update the list.

Truecaller also introduced a comment feature for iPhone users that allows them to read user feedback about spam calls and even contribute their own comments. This feature was previously available on Android.

SMS filtering on iOS is also improved with the ability to categorize incoming SMS into Finance, Orders, Reminders, Coupons, Offers, and Junk categories. This format is currently active in India, South Africa and Nigeria and will soon be rolled out to other markets.

The new suite of features on Truecaller for iPhone comes months after the iOS app received a revamped experience in August last year. Since then, the company said that the number of daily users of the iPhone had grown by more than 80%. The company declined to provide details on how many users it has on iOS in total.

“Live Caller ID on iPhone is the one major aspect that has eluded our iPhone app, and we are excited to finally introduce it with the help of Siri,” said Alan Mamedi, co-founder and CEO of Truecaller, in a prepared statement. .

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