I've been waiting for an easy way to block unwanted calls for some time now. Sure, you can record some silence and then use that silent sound as the ringtone for a particular caller. It's a kludge, but if all you're shooting for is to silence your phone for certain callers, it works.
Thankfully, there's a free, yet reliable application called Privacy Security by NetQin Mobile Inc. that can act as a powerful call filter to block unwanted calls and protect your privacy. Here are some things you can do with Privacy Security:
- Black List
- Reject calls
- Forward or reply with an auto-SMS
- Block spam SMS
- Backup contacts to a server
- Transfer data to a new phone (even cross-platform to Symbian, Android, or BlackBerry)
- One-click deletion of sensitive call logs and messages
- Password protect call logs and messages from prying eyes
- Add private contacts
There are even more features if you upgrade to the Premium edition. Strangely enough, the Premium features are not purchased through the Android Market. Instead, you buy them from within the application, and the payment is made through your phone bill rather than the standard method.
As you have come to expect from any Android platform, the installation is simple. Just do the following:
- Open the Android Market from the app drawer
- Search for "privacy security" (no quotes)
- Tap Download
- Tap Accept and Install
That's it. Now, the tricky part is that you will be expecting an icon in the app drawer for Privacy Security. It's not there. The icon (for some odd reason) is labeled "Mobile Manager." Tap that icon to open the application.
UsageOnce open, it's possible to take care of everything you need from the main window (see Figure A). Figure A
From the gold button, you can upgrade to the Premium edition — just remember that the cost will go to your phone bill and not through the standard Google channels.
First, set up your blacklist, and then you can control how those particular contacts are handled by Privacy Security. In order to add contacts to a blacklist, following these steps:
- From the main window, tap Blacklist
- Tap Add Number
- Select where you want to add the number from (see Figure B)
- Choose the desired contacts to be added
- Tap Add
With all of the contacts added to your blacklist, it's now possible to control what happens when those calls come in. Here's how:
- From the main window, tap the Settings icon in the upper-right corner
- Tap Call blocking rule
- From the list, select the desired action for blacklist callers (see Figure C)
Make sure that you select the appropriate rule for the action you want (whitelist contacts must be added the same way as your blacklist contacts).
There's one more setting to take care of, and that's how calls are blocked. You do this in one of two ways:
- Pick up and hang up
- Close (or block) ringtone
If you want to make sure that blocked calls do not get the opportunity to leave voice mail, select pick up and hang up. To do this, follow these steps:
- From the Settings window, tap How to block calls
- From the resulting list, select Pick up and hang up
There is a third option that must be enabled. If you enable Response to caller (from the Settings window), a new drop-down will appear that allows you to send a message (SMS) after Privacy Security hangs up. The choices are:
- Busy now. I will call you later.
- In a meeting. I will call you later.
- Driving. I will call you later.
- Sleeping. I will call you later.
- You can also create your own personal message by tapping the Create new reply message button (see Figure D).
SMS BlockingIt's also possible to block blacklisted user's SMS messages. From the SMS Blocking tab (see Figure E), you can select the SMS blocking rule (blacklist, non-contacts, do not block), information about notifications, and whether or not you want to receive unread SMS reminders. Figure E
Privacy Security has come in handy for me on a number of occasions. Not only is it helpful to be able to block unwanted calls, but having the ability to control how those calls are handled makes this app a powerful ally in the battle to keep your mobile device as annoyance-free as possible.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.