How many times do you receive robo calls on your Android smart phone? Multiple wrong numbers? Spam texts? Calls from people you'd rather not talk to? Or are there times you want your phone on but want all your calls to go directly to voice mail?
Now there's a solution beyond grinning and bearing these unwanted intrusions or turning your Android smart phone on silent or off – an app called Mr. Number.
Mr. Number gives you complete control over who can call or text you and when. Not only does Mr. Number help you maintain your privacy, but can help you save on your phone bill by not allowing certain calls or texts to come in.
You can even get a CallerID from callers who hide their identity.
And Mr. Number is all free – or, at least, the most critical parts.
What's it do?
Blocking numbers using Mr. Number is simple. You can block:
- Numbers you enter
- Some or all numbers from your contact list
- All numbers not in your contact list
- Numbers from recent calls or texts
- All calls from a specific area code
- All numbers that don't tell you who's calling
And you can block these numbers all time or some of the time. You can decide to block everyone – with specified exceptions. Or, you can either block all these kinds of calls as if they never happened, or send blocked calls directly to voice mail.
You also set Mr. Number to notify you when a call is blocked – or not. There may be people you don't even want to know are trying to reach you.
You can also let callers or texters who also use Mr. Number know your status and when you can get back to them without answering a call or text – they'll see your status if they use the app to make the call or text. Non-Mr. Number users can get a receive a short text or Twitter message that you're in a meeting and will call them back shortly.
Finally, Mr. Number turns two apps into one. It groups all calls and texts from a single number – say all the phone calls and text messages from your spouse – into a single list. You can now eschew the separate Android phone and messaging apps and combine all your calling and texting needs into the single Mr. Number app.
In other words, any possible scenario you can think of in which you wish to control who calls or texts you and when, Mr. Number enables.
Which is all great for Android phone users and would be great for iPhone users, except there is no Mr. Number for iPhone. According to the Mr. Number people, "the Apple developer platform does not allow developers to see the number of an incoming call to create better calling and texting apps."
Too bad. This is one handy app – although it will take some time for you to work through all the possible permutations.
A disturbing aspect
While I wish Mr. Number were available for iPhone, there is one aspect of the app I find slightly disturbing.
I don't know about you, but I hate getting calls from people who block their name. Emotionally I'd love to block these "private" calls since so many of them are from spammers or are wrong numbers. And I hate these "private" calls on principal – I'm going to find out who you are eventually, and if you're a telemarketer I'm going to hang up on you. But intellectually, I know even a "private" call may be important.
Mr. Number solves this problem, but in a way I find slightly disturbing.
First, Mr. Number collects all the phone numbers its users have labeled as spam and has created a master list. If you add "Suspected Spam" to your blocked call list, Mr. Number blocks the spam other users have indicated as such. That's nice.
But if you get a call or text from a number not in your contacts and not on its master spam list, Mr. Number conducts a reverse number lookup using what it calls "crowd-sourced CallerID" – a directory culled from all the contacts from all its users (in the U.S. only).
If you agree to add your contact list to this crowd-sourced CallerID directory, you get CallerID for free. But if you want to shield your contact list but still want access to Mr. Number's CallerID, it'll cost you $10 a year.
I find this slightly disturbing. I'm uncomfortable granting permission to a third party app to access information I don't have permission to give – a person's name associated with their phone number. I'm even queasier about having to pay to not give Mr. Number access to this information.
Fortunately, you don't have to access Mr. Number's crowd-sourced CallerID, which I wouldn't, at least not under those terms. But not having it doesn't even slightly diminish the app's "why didn't someone think of this before" functionality, which ought to be basic operating procedure for all phones