Just because you have a smartphone doesn’t mean you want people calling you all the time. Enter Mr. Number (Google Play, Free), a handy little app that makes it easy to block calls and text messages from specific numbers, area codes, code prefixes, or just everyone. It’s dead simple, but surprisingly powerful, and comes with reverse call lookup to boot.
Call and SMS Blocking
I’ve seen call and SMS blocking approached in a number of ways, but I think Mr. Number has to be the most flexible and the most powerful. You simply create one list of numbers, and the app blocks all interactions from those numbers.
You can drill down to specifics in the settings menu, opting to block texts from users on the block lists or not. You can also block specific numbers, whole area codes, unknown (as in, blocked) numbers, numbers not in your contacts, all the numbers in your contacts, or every number. You can also opt to block “suspected spam,” which can be reviewed later, or numbers from your recent call list.
More importantly, you can create exceptions for all of these rules. While testing on my Samsung Galaxy S III, I blocked all numbers that begin with a 248 area code, but created an exception for my own phone number. I was particularly impressed at the app’s de-confliction powers, which would not allow me to list a blocked number as an exception.
You can also designate how a call is blocked, and what alerts you see. For instance, you can have all calls from your mother dumped to voicemail, while all calls from your boss simply do not connect. You can also opt to see silent alerts when a call or SMS is blocked, or no alerts at all. I was disappointed that PrivacyStar did not manage to completely silence calls on my phone.
I really liked the option to mark some numbers as spam, which SecurtiyWatch often advises people to do by forwarding spam texts to the GSMA phone provider consortium via shortcode 7726. Unfortunately, Mr. Number stores spam submissions on its own database—in future versions, I’d like to see spam information shared with outside services like the GSMA database.
You can also include a comment about the number, which the developers tell me are quickly approved but the comments I filed were missing in action. In the screenshots on Google Play, it appears that you can see other users’ comments in addition to how many other people have marked the number as spam.
Blocked calls appear in the Mr. Number call log, not in your phone’s call history, along with blocked SMS messages in their entirety. You can also opt to not store the content of messages. I liked this feature because it could allow victims to avoid all contact with their abuser. But by the same token, I wish Mr. Number could export blocked call history and messages as they might be useful in legal proceedings.
The only other quibble I had with the app was that it is very insistent that I download another app by the same developer. It’s not too annoying, but it is more forward than I like my ads.
After you install Mr. Number onto your Android, it injects a small window onto the Android call screen that tells you a little bit more about who is calling and the last time they called. In keeping with this app’s highly customizable nature, you can reposition or suppress these alerts all together.
On Google Play, the app brags that it will link you to special deals and more information about businesses who call you. I was unable to test this feature since nobody called me, though I have to say I have never cared about offers when a company calls me on my personal cellphone.
You can also perform up to 20 reverse call lookups with Mr. Number, presumably drawing on the enormous stockpile of information amassed by White Pages, the company that recently purchased Mr. Number. I was a bit disappointed that the lookups did not reveal information like the general location of individuals (which is available in the caller ID info) or the address of businesses. It did, however, successfully identify my office phone as Ziff Davis and to my surprise, returned my full name when I looked up my cellphone number. Spooky!
I was also impressed that the app was honest about the lookups—which cost 99 cents each after the first 20. When I searched for a number already in my contacts, the app politely informed me that a search was not necessary and that it would not count against my 20.
Mister Right Number
Mr. Number has an impressive array of features, and the right attitude for a truly useful utility: It stays out of the way when you don’t want it, and is easy to use when you need it. While I am not famous enough to need extensive call blocking, it is eminently useful for anyone who just wants to avoid the world (or an area code) from time to time.
With strong features and solid execution, it’s my Editors’ Choice for Android call blocking apps.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc