The Federal Trade Commission has awarded $25,000 to two developers to stem the tide of robocalling. In March, the agency put out a call for developers to find a way to handle pesky spam calls automatically through a competition dubbed "Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back."
Now, the winner's been announced: RoboKiller, an app that analyzes calls to see if your caller's a robot or not.
The solution will work on landline and mobile phones through call forwarding, but you do need a smartphone for the app to work—when you forward a landline phone all calls will redirect to your smartphone. When the incoming call forwards onto your mobile phone, the app tricks robocallers into playing their messages before your phone actually rings.
Then some magic takes place. Similar to Shazam, RoboKiller uses audio fingerprint technology to identify robocalls, and then blocks and adds the number to a growing database of spam callers.
But it's not a seamless system so far. Some states have explicit recording laws that make it necessary for the app to announce that it's recording before a call session. Those few seconds it needs are held together by a lot of red tape.
"To comply with some state laws, we play an audible warning to your callers informing them that the call is being recorded," the app's end user license agreement reads.
The app is currently in beta testing and will be on the Apple App Store soon, with an Android version following thereafter.
Update 8/18: This post has been updated to clarify how RoboKiller functions in certain states.