Why can’t I sync blocked numbers to a new Android phone?

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

I don’t switch phones often, but when I do I dread every single part of the process. Though Google has smoothed out some of the steps thanks to a more robust Android backup system and a new Fast Pair phone setup, plenty of tedious little things remain. It’s a hassle, re-pairing wearables and Bluetooth accessories, customizing smart home devices to follow the new phone for geolocation automations, and logging into apps and recustomizing them to my liking. It can take a day and do it all manually; However, what I can’t do is transfer or sync my blocked numbers on my Android phone to a new phone.

And this little problem has been bugging me for a few years now. I’m surprised it hasn’t been fixed yet.

I trust Google to detect some spam numbers themselves and stop them from bothering me, but I also make an effort to report them as spam and block any other spammers and unwanted numbers that slip through. Still, every year I find myself answering calls and looking at messages from the same unwanted numbers just because the block list didn’t transfer when I switched to a new phone.

My blocked numbers list doesn’t transfer when I switch phones. I end up answering calls and reading messages from the same unwanted numbers.

Spam and phishing are massive problems in some countries like the US and India. In my experience they were less of an issue in France, but in Lebanon, where there is no GDPR and no data protection regulations, they were a major annoyance. As a practicing pharmacist, my number was registered with the union and given to hundreds of pharmaceutical and not-so-pharmaceutical companies without my consent. Even two years after the closure of my practice, I still receive dozens of unwanted messages on my Lebanese number every week.

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Since spam is such an annoying everyday occurrence, you might think you have all the tools at your disposal to fight it. And yet, Google fights it with Assistant Call Screening and massive data collection from millions of users to identify spam before it annoys you, but it forgets a very simple trick that could save anyone an extra headache: just sync my blocked numbers list on Android via phones.

Spam, phishing and abuse are massive problems. I was only supposed to have to block a number once, but Google is trying to solve the problem differently.

Aside from spam, the problem gets worse when you imagine an ex or abusive person from your past constantly calling or texting you. You block them and think you’re done with the crap only to see their number pop up again when you switch to a new phone. When we consciously choose to block or mark a number as spam, we never want to see the same number again.

From simple and manual to complex and automatic, here are three ways how to fix this problem:

Add a button to manually export and import to the blocked numbers list in the Google Phone and Messages apps. Treat the blocked numbers list like the call log and make sure it is backed up and restored when users switch phones. Sync the blocked numbers list with my Google account (maybe as part of Google Contacts?) so it’s always updated on all my devices.

Apple does the latter with iCloud. You block a number on your iPhone and it syncs to your iPad, iMac and any other device you use. Google could and should do the same. Sure, it’s not as sexy as assistant call screening, but nobody wants to block the same numbers over and over again.

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Do you block the same numbers again when you switch to a new Android phone?

30 votes