There’s an app on every Android smartphone that most people never change, although there’s a much better option: the Phone app itself.

Most people don’t realize that the app that handles phone calls can be changed like a web browser, email client, or any other app on the smartphone. Instead, they stick with the standard phone app provided by their smartphone manufacturer and miss out on a host of extremely useful features.

The phone app that I highly recommend you install on Android devices is Phone by Google. It’s free, has powerful features that can save you irritating spam calls and make it easier to call local businesses, and it’s almost certainly better than the one that came with your phone – unless your phone is a Google Pixel, in which case you have probably already understood!

Benefits Phone by Google

Phone by Google has a huge advantage: it deals with those annoying spam calls that are the bane of every smartphone owner’s life.

By default, Phone by Google signals when an incoming call is suspected spam by flashing a big red warning on the screen. When a message is flagged as spam, you can be almost certain it will be a nuisance call. I’ve been using the app for a week now, and whenever a message was marked as spam (I get a few every day), I replied to check it was. Google has succeeded every time.

It’s so good that I’ve now dove into call settings and enabled the option to filter out unwanted calls so they don’t even ring my phone and bother me.

It is true that other phone apps also have spam detection. Samsung’s Phone app does a very similar job, but there are other reasons to opt for Google’s app.

Number search

If you wanted to look up the number of your local pizzeria, you’d probably fire up Google and search from there. However, Phone by Google lets you search for places from within the phone app itself, in exactly the same way you might search for a contact stored in your phone (it does that too, of course).

He is also smart in the way he searches for numbers. For example, if I search for “Domino’s”, the first three phone numbers returned are the three closest branches of the pizza delivery service. If I search for “taxi” it lists local taxi companies.

It’s all based on your current location, not a pre-set hometown, so if you’re in a strange place and need to call a taxi or a local restaurant, you can do it right from the phone app.

Advanced features

There are other powerful features in Phone by Google, but they may not be available in your region or with your carrier. Visual voicemail, where you receive a transcript of voicemail messages, is one such feature, as is call screening, where Google effectively answers the phone for you (if it’s a number you don’t recognize, for example) and again you can read a transcript of what the caller said to Google’s answering machine before you decided to return the call.

If your current phone app doesn’t offer these features, it’s probably time to hang up.