Identify unknown phone numbers with Truecaller for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone

I remember a time, not so long ago, when the only way to know who was calling on the phone was to pick it up. These days, a phone call will display the name, number, and (often) the picture of whoever is calling your mobile phone if they are in your contacts list. For those NOT on your list, there’s Truecaller.

Truecaller is a free Android app that adds UNIVERSAL caller ID functionality to Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and other mobile platforms.

It displays information on almost any call that your phone receives, whether the number is in your contacts list or not.

It also provides a lookup functionality, allowing you to type in an unknown name or number and – in most cases – find out information about it. Truecaller provides information across the world, and for every conceivable country.

Truecaller screenshot1Truecaller screenshot2

Truecaller runs in the background and, when a call comes in, performs a lookup and displays information on who the caller is. It does this by searching your phone first, including your SIM card, and then searching external sources as well (including, apparenly, the phone itself that is being used to call you). The results vary; mostly, you will get some indication as to the name of the caller; in some cases, however, and depending on the country you reside in, you might get the listed address.

But that’s not all. Truecaller will also let you search for both NAMES and NUMBERS to identify contacts or to find people. It can also populate your contacts list with missing addresses en masse, if it finds them, as well as set up blacklists of people to block.

Wish list: some of these might sound like nitpicking, but here goes

  • The one thing Truecaller will do, is set the country that you reside in. If you receive international phone calls, however, it will not identify those. Seems like it could be rewritten.
  • Lookup filters: specifically, when looking up someone by name in ‘United States’, I found myself wishing that I could specify the state. The ‘address’ field didn’t seem to do proper filtering.

The verdict:

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

I test a lot of software, but it’s not very often that a software or app can pack a ‘wow’ factor anymore. Truecaller is one of those apps that, despite initial skepticism, delivers on what it promises, even when I didn’t think it was possible.

There is room for improvement, but this free app works so well I recommend it to everyone. Truecaller one will definitely be listed in a future edition of my “Must Have Android Apps” series of posts.

Get Truecaller here (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and Nokia).


 
 
 
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Nov 27, 2012
Samer Kurdi
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  • Eric

    Interesting. It appears to build it’s database by mining the contacts of those who’ve installed the app. This is from their site: “Truecaller’s users, from all over the world, share their phone books, including numbers to pre-paid phones, and together create a relevant global directory users can easily opt-in or out at any time.”

    Is it opt-out by default and is it obvious to end-users that it’s harvesting their address book when they install it?

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/110765036334827012485 Samer Kurdi

      I have been testing this app for a week. It has worked beautifully, displaying the phone number of unknown calls from both mobiles and land lines. I am pretty sure not a single caller it has identified has the app installed.

      I just tested this by giving myself a call from an unknown number, from someone I didn’t know who was kind enough to let me do so. This was not a smartphone, and definitely not running this app, but the name was identified and displayed.

      Which is not to say it doesn’t mine your contacts. I am not sure if it is opt in by default.

      Here’s how they get their data (from their FAQ):
      “We get our data partly through partnerships with different white/yellow pages around the world and partly through our own database. This database which is contributed by our users (opt in functionality) and maintained by us is the core value of Truecaller towards the goal of ultimate global phonebook.

      To clarify this even further, we may take ‘India’ as an example. Unfortunately there are no reliable public directory services in this country. This brings us to the point where our crowd sourced data is the only reliable source we can make the lookups against. Our users from all over the world voluntarily contribute to this directory and in return they get access to this special database and get significantly better search results. Even in countries where we have public directories, Truecaller data is used to enhance the data quality.

      Please note that, phonebook contribution has been and always will be optional. Only phone numbers and names are used and all data is transferred and kept by Truecaller using secure methods. Truecaller on Android does not ask or shares any information from your phonebook but you will still be able to enjoy Truecaller fully. “

  • Someone

    Indeed, why not let some unknown third party build up a network of all your connections?

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/110765036334827012485 Samer Kurdi

      I just checked. Opting into their mining is opt in, and not the default.

      • http://www.paleografie.tk Cerberus

        Okay, that is something of a relief, because I must say some of the reviews in the Play store scared me…

        “A Google User – November 17, 2012 – Samsung Galaxy Nexus with version 2.98
        Title: How does this app knows my name?

        I am a bit skeptical on how this app really works. The description states that it doesn’t steal my phone book but should I really trust it. As the name and address details looks pretty much stolen from one of my friends (reason: it includes my nickname too). Just a statutory warning to all: Stay careful.”

        • http://www.paleografie.tk Cerberus

          So can we trust their opt-in? What do we know about these guys? Notice how you basically eliminate the privacy of your friends, not your own, by letting Truecaller access your phone book.

  • Rams

    I tried this app in India. It does not work to the same extent as in other locations.
    I guess its not able to identify prepaid number owners and also its picking up the database from agencies who are the front end for the actual service providers.

  • http://carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

    Sounds very dodgy and is also very hit and miss here in UK. I tested with numbers I know such as my own and my wifes and got no results. I tried a few landline numbers from around here and all it says is the area the exchange is based in. I tried a big company such as Dominos and it gave me a persons name which shows it does get information from peoples phones since I got the dominos number from Yellow Pages.

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/110765036334827012485 Samer Kurdi

      @ Carbonize: it looks like it differs greatly from country to country. Also, it looks like even if you don’t opt in to let it search and share your contacts, you will still be privy to the contacts info of others who did opt in.

      • http://carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

        I seem to remember from the odd time i have received calls form unknown numbers that my Samsung Galaxy S3 showed me the exchange for the number anyway so possibly the S3 has something similar built in.

        BTW I’m getting fed up of being told that Spam Free had trouble retrieving the password :|