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Google Pixel 6 phones reportedly phantom calling random contacts due to false Google Assistant triggers

Google Pixel 6 phones are apparently phantom calling random contacts without user intervention. (Image Source: Google)
Google Pixel 6 phones are apparently phantom calling random contacts without user intervention. (Image Source: Google)
The new Google Pixel 6 phones are reportedly suffering from a phantom calling problem as evidenced by several complaints on Reddit and in independent testing. The majority of the cases point to the Google Assistant getting triggered and placing calls to random numbers. Right now, a temporary solution is to disable Assistant responses on the lock screen, but a fix from Google is on the way.

The new Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6 have been receiving good reviews, but not all's well with Google's latest offerings. A number of users on Reddit are complaining of phantom phone calls from their Pixel 6 phones. Phantom calls or pocket dialing usually happens when the phone is not being used and can be a potential privacy nightmare for the owner and confusing for the receiver of the call.

The exact reason for the phantom calls from Pixel 6 devices is still being investigated, but a common trend seems to point fingers at the Google Assistant. Apparently, the Google Assistant is perceiving certain noises and phrases as a trigger and is randomly calling people even numbers that are not in Speed Dial. At times, random calls to 911 have been reportedly placed as well, which is illegal when there's no actual emergency.

Users who have Google Activity history enabled could figure out that the Google Assistant was indeed placing calls on its own when it overheard phrases such as "it sounded nothing like" even when "Hey Google" trigger wasn't uttered. 

A few complaints from the Reddit thread include:

This is happening to me too

It randomly called 2 people in my contacts with me not even near the phone. It was on the shelf with other people around it talking but I wasn't near it

This was in a restaurant so were lots of people around." - /u/bosspugs

It just happened to me. My friend texted me saying "did you call" I checked my call log and sure enough a call was placed at 4am while I was asleep - /u/Irvg11

Same here with the Pixel 6 Pro a few days ago. Just sitting there and my phone shouts at me "Calling Jim". I don't even know if that's still Jim's number, rushed to cut that off real quick. Did a factory reset... It did the same thing the next day dialing someone else. The names are not in my speed dial just random contacts I have had over the years. Pulling the sim and using the Pixel 3 for now. Maybe that's Google's way of helping me to try and reach out to others. - /u/PartyOnDudes

Relax guys, this feature is called "Bringing people closer". Like countless other nifty things, Google didn't publicize it enough but this feature is meant to bring you closer to people you have lost connection to.

Remember Nokia - "Connecting people"? Yeah?!? Google doing that for you so sit back and enjoy! - /u/termmonkey

9to5Google could reproduce this bug wherein it was demonstrated that if the Assistant fails to properly understand a command, it could resort to calling a random number. 

While workarounds such as rebooting the device, clearing the historical data, or not using a previous device backup are being suggested, the issue seems to crop up again at random indicating that a server-side fix from Google is needed. The problem could be with Android 12 as well as one user reportedly experienced this problem with a Pixel 5 running Android 12 Beta. For now, disabling "Assistant responses on lock screen" in the Google Assistant settings seems to be the only way to enforce a hard rule on the Assistant to not place phantom calls.

Google clarified in a statement to 9to5Google that they are "aware of this issue' and are "working on an intermittent fix", so it shouldn't be too long before Pixel 6 owners can heave a sigh of relief.

That being said, there are other niggling issues with the Pixel 6 launch as well including screen flickering and the presence of two selfie notches in early units. Fixes for these are expected in December. 

Have you experienced phantom calls from your Google Pixel 6 or any other Android 12 phone? Let us know in the comments below.  

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 11 > Google Pixel 6 phones reportedly phantom calling random contacts due to false Google Assistant triggers
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2021-11- 7 (Update: 2021-11- 7)