WWDC 2016 slides Phone spam call

Starting with iOS 10, Apple is allowing a new type of applications in the App Store: apps that can detect and block spam phone calls from telemarketers, debt collectors, scammers, and automated systems. These apps act as an extension of the Phone application, and in theory, they can help you filter out those calls from people you don’t want to talk to.

In this post, we will have a look at how these applications work and how to use them.

CallKit and detection of spam calls

The new CallKit framework in iOS 10 allows developers to create app extensions that enable call blocking and/or caller identification. When such an extension is installed and enabled, your iPhone will check the phone number that is calling you against the app’s database of number that have been flagged as spam. If there is a match, meaning if a number calling you is a known offender, the app may block the call automatically.

Depending on the third-party app you have installed, you may be offered several options, such as filtering the call (your phone rings but a message indicates it is believed to be a spam call), or simply completely blocking the call so you aren’t even aware someone tried to call you in the first place.

There is more than one app for that

Just like there are more than one content blocker app for iOS, there are several apps that allow you to filter and block spam calls. However, because this is a brand new feature of iOS, there aren’t many available right now in the App Store.

What differs in these applications is their feature sets and the amount and accuracy of their directory of spam callers.

To date, I have only found a handful of these applications in the App Store.

At this point, it’s hard to judge which one is best, although CallBlock seems to offer more granular filtering options. For what it’s worth, I just received a spam call as I was typing this post, and Who Called didn’t know it was spam.

How to install a call blocker on your iPhone

1) The first step is obviously to download such an application in the App Store. You may try WhoCallsWho Called or CallBlock (please do let me know if you find more apps).

2) Once installed, navigate to Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification.


3) Turn on the toggle for the app(s) you have installed. Note that you may activate more than one at a time.

4) Go to the call blocking app to adjust its settings. As I mentioned before, these apps have different settings that can be tweaked to fit your needs. For example, I have set the Who Called app to show caller information, not block scam calls, and show info about non-spam calls. I decided to not block spam calls for the time being as I really want to assess how good this app is at recognizing spam calls.


From now on, the app extension should theoretically identify, filter and potentially block calls coming from telemarketers, scammers, etc. Note that your mileage may vary greatly depending on the app extension you are using. Again, these apps are fairly new to the App Store, and some will probably surface as better than others.

Of course, if a spam call still manages to sneak through, you can always block calls manually.

Do you use an extension to block calls in iOS 10? If so, make sure to share which one you’re using and what your experience has been so far.

  • Ds

    Snyc.Me has around 1,000 or so blocked callers listed. You can add numbers to be blocked from within the app as well. Only reason I use it is because it does a better job of updating contact info (phone number, emails, address changes, new contact pictures) with facebook than facebook does.

  • Sylvan Feghali

    truecaller is the best in my opinion !

    • Abhijeet Gupta

      Waiting for it to be updated

    • TrueCaller doesn’t take advantage of the new CallKit APIs though.

      • Ducky

        Hopefully they update it, I used TrueCaller with PhoneCaller and it worked perfectly back on iOS 8

      • Hasan Qureshi

        It does now.

      • Brendan Keyport

        It pretends to, It does NOTHING different.

      • John

        FINALLY, almost two months after they vapor-announced the CallKit integration and then refused to comment on the fact that it wasn’t actually there….they released it on October 28. Same version number, 7.10, but I can confirm that now it has CallKit integration. It does seem to work well, but that was the worst release behavior I’ve ever seen.

  • Rowan09

    I need this because after purchasing my pre-owned car everyone one is calling me about extended warranty which I already have. Who the hell gave out my number?

    • ooMikeoo

      Probably the loan company

  • Stephen Hedger

    It would be so much easier to have a whitelist where only people on your contact list are allowed through and other numbers just call and become a +1 on the app icon.

    • Joaquim N.

      There is something like that natively on IOS called Do Not Disturb. You just have to add your entirely contact list as Favorites and turn on DND.

      • Stephen Hedger

        Cool. Thanks for that I just assumed DND just muted everything.

        I guess it’s good if you get lots of spam callers but I might get one a month so it’s not worth the hassle.

        If only iblacklist was integrated in iOS 10 🙂

      • Joaquim N.

        Oh, I have to replace my phone number once because of the spam. It was so much I couldn’t handle anymore, something like 10-15 calls a day! I wish we could just block a determinate prefix from a State or particular region of the country, for example. That would help a lot!

  • dave

    so callblock is 3.99 PLUS a monthly subscription? pass.

    • Nope, a subscription won’t be required if you bought the paid version.

  • Wowzera

    Hello, do you guys know if there is a way to block calls without Caller ID? Calls from unknown numbers.

    • Mr Angry

      iblacklist – working with JB up to 9.3 I think.

      • Wowzera

        Too bad I am already on iOS 10.

    • MadeInNY

      Create a new contact. Block it. Every time a new number calls you, add it to that contact. Easy peasy.

      • Wowzera

        The calls I am referring are those made without caller ID, so theres no way to add it to a contact, because theres no number.

  • MediaVantage .

    Easy solution folks: have ALL your true real contacts as Favorites BAM!! ..and then keep Do Not Disturb in Manual. I’m not paying a dime for those apps. Bcos they DON’T stop/block the calls. Identifying them is not enough.

    • This doesn’t really work, because now I can’t use DND to easily filter out calls and notifications when I’m sleeping without manually changing the settings every time I go to bed and wake up.

    • LazaroFilm

      And what do you do if a new client calls you to hire you? I need to pick up those unknown numbers and it’s always a gamble.

  • Omar D. Plumey

    Off topic, but are there any cool phone apps? Extensions and such?

  • Jason B

    According to the version history, it hasn’t been updated since Aug 7th, which is before iOS 10 was released to the public, I don’t understand the articles that were posted a few days ago, saying this app had been updated to use CallKit…because it hasn’t, at least, in the US.

    Regardless, I don’t like the fact that they want to snoop through my contacts (apparently to match up names with numbers, um, no thanks), and that they also appear to have a monthly subscription service, which I haven’t been able to figure out what that gets you.

    Very shady if you ask me…

    • John

      Yeah, you’re right. I’ll bet it got held up in the Apple approval process. I’ll send their support an email and see what’s going on.

  • Jason B

    Hiya appears to be the only one in the US that is working for me. Went into “recent” calls, and it identified the two spam calls I had yesterday. Pretty cool.

    Now, why the heck doesn’t the keyboard revert back to letters after typing a punctuation and a space??? Driving me crazy…

    • Vadim

      I also use Hiya and its pretty good! I definitely check out Truecaller as soon as the update it to use the new CallKit…

  • TiredofObama

    I’ve had my phone number for many years. I moved a few states away, but kept my old number.
    Frequently I get calls using the prefix of my phone number, so that’s a dead giveaway the caller is a spam caller.
    I’ve got over 900 numbers blocked and add two to three a day. Lately, I get more spam calls than legitimate calls.
    A good app developer needs to emulate the old PBX type of system and allow for the assignment of changeable pass-codes before the call is completed. Assign different codes to various people and a master dump number for leaving a message, after pressing the code number. No pass-code, sorry Charlie, no ringy dingy.

    • Abigail

      Have you been able to find a solution to this? I’m also getting spam numbers calling me. They also have the same prefix numbers.. I blocked at least 30 of them already and it’s getting really tiring.

  • John

    The newest versions of TrueCaller and Avast Call Blocker both use the new CallKit APIs to block spam calls. I actually use them both, and am getting a lot less spam calls coming through. When they do come through, you can report them to one or both apps and it goes into the database to help others block them.

    One problem is that a lot of people seem to have reported legit phone numbers as spam (like the actual Microsoft Tech Support number, my insurance company, etc). So you have to be careful if you’re expecting a call back from a company…it might be blocked if a bunch of goofs reported the number as spam (which these numbers are not). You can report them as Not Spam to help improve the list and whitelist the numbers for yourself, but only after you’ve figured out that they were blocked inappropriately.