House of Representatives passes bill cracking down on robocalls

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Apple and Intel file antitrust lawsuit again investment firm that stockpiles patents
Could this be the beginning of the end for robocalling?
Photo: Pexels

The House of Representatives passed a new bill Wednesday calling for tougher penalties on “robocalling” operations. This means that carriers would need to put technology in place to ensure phone calls are authentic.

The legislation also would allow the Federal Communications Commission to fine illegal robocallers $10,000 per violation. When you think about the potential quantity of calls made, that figure could add up quickly!

Clever concept fixes iPhone’s incoming call problems

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Incoming call
Please make this real.
Photo: Vinoth Ragunathan

The way iPhone handles incoming calls is probably one of the worst UI elements still around in iOS. Instead of only showing a small alert, the entire screen is taken hostage by a caller. This especially sucks in the age of endless robocalls, yet Apple has shown no motivation to change all of that.

Concept designer Vinoth Ragunathan has come up with a clever solution that fixes all that and it doesn’t even require much work on Apple’s part. All you would have to do is swipe up to dismiss the screen.

iPhone will soon protect you from endless spam calls

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Spam call
With iOS 13, calls like these can go straight to voicemail.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Billions of spam calls were made last year, but Apple is doing what it can to save us from the frustration of robocalls. iOS 13 will let users automatically send incoming calls to voicemail if they came from someone unknown. And this system is actually smarter than just checking the user’s phone book.

Wireless earbuds, iPhone lenses and more in the best deals of the week [Deals]

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The top deals of the week include an awesome AirPods alternative, a powerful task manager, and more.
The top deals of the week include an awesome AirPods alternative and a powerful task manager.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Another week, another roundup of awesome deals on gear and gadgets. This round, we’ve got a truly attractive AirPods alternative, a powerful tool for blocking unwanted calls and texts, the ultimate time-management platform, and a set of camera lenses for your iPhone.

Snag one or all — at hefty discounts!

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This app uses a community database of spam and scam callers to help keep them from getting through.
This app uses a community database of spam and scam callers to help keep them from getting through.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Here’s how crazy spam calls went in 2018

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Incoming Scam Phone Call
Spam and Robocalls are out of control and must be stopped!
Photo: Cult of Mac

It feels like spam calls have gotten out of control lately. With more calls resulting in sales pitches and attempts to scam you, people are answering their phones less and less.

A new report from call identification and blocking company Hiya shows just how bad these spam calls have gotten.

Pro Tip: Reject Robocalls at the squeeze of a hardware button

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Reject robocalls on with a double-tap of the power button.
Reject robocalls on with a double-tap on the power button.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Pro Tip Cult of Mac bug Did you know that, if you have your iPhone set to share incoming calls with your Mac, your iPad, and/or Apple Watch, then the iPhone won’t let you reject incoming calls? The red telephone icon isn’t there. You have to either answer the call, or scramble to another device in order to bump the call without picking up first.

But there’s a great hidden trick that lets you reject any call from your iPhone, without even touching the screen.

How to automatically troll telemarketers and keep them busy

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jolly roger fight telemarketers
Will these robots answer your call for you? Probably not.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

There were 3.4 billion robocalls in April this year, and the chances are it feels like you got roughly half of those to your own phone. These calls aren’t just telemarketing anymore, either. Just like email spam, scams pervade these already-annoying automated calls. One way around this is to unplug your landline phone, and to ignore all phone calls to your iPhone (go to Settings > Notifications > Phone and switch off Allow Notifications).

A better way is to troll the robocallers by hooking them up to a service that answers the calls for you, and uses robots to keep the telemarketers on the line, wasting their time an costing them money. And for that, you need the Jolly Roger.

Apple joins government task force to kill robocalls

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Apple adds 5 new vice presidents to its executive lineup
Apple is teaming up with top tech companies to end the scourge of robocalls.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

The scourge of robocalls may be coming to an end, thanks to a new task force comprised of over 30 top tech companies, including Apple.

The U.S. government has enlisted the help of Apple, AT&T, Alphabet, Verizon, Comcast and others to crack down on unsolicited, automated, prerecorded phone calls that have become the most frequent complaint the U.S. Federal Communications Commission receives from citizens.