How Truecaller works on iOS and what sucks about that.

I have always liked the product Truecaller. As someone living in India it is more of a necessity than a utility considering telemarketers will not give a single f*** before calling you at any time of the day. What sucks is that Truecaller does not work on iPhones. Primarily because of the closed architecture of the iOS that does not provide hook or access to any app to get access to the dialer. What that means is that Truecaller does not get access to incoming/outgoing calls and can’t perform its most basic function.
Recently something changed and Truecaller on my iPhone has started to work and basically not work at the same time. Many a times even before I receive a call Truecaller starts telling me “XXX is calling” and once the call is over it leaved a notification in the bar “XXX called”. Now it might seem that Truecaller has somehow found some miraculous way to function on iPhone but the problem is that most of the times the caller XXX is my wife or my friends who are already saved in my contact list. So basically the app is not really doing any favours by showing their name. And the worst thing it is not doing what it is supposed to do, i.e identifying spammers. With some hit and trial and a little mental math I have figured out how Truecaller has figured out the iOS issue and what part of it is breaking.
  1. Truecaller on iOS will only tell you about the callers details if the call comes from an android phone. (or a win phone. i don’t know if windows integration is as good as android). It will not work if the caller is calling from an iPhone
  2. This means that the moment the caller starts the call, Truecaller sends that information to their server (who is calling and to whom) and the server in turn send that information to my phone in the form of a push notification. Which is precisely the reason why i see the callers name way before (2-3 secs) even my phone starts to ring.
  3. So we have established that iwhen a Truecaller android user calls another Truecaller user the receiving user will get the information by pull (android) or push(iOS).
  4. So why does it show me the names of the people who are already present in my contacts. I know why. Because I did not allow the Truecaller app access to my contact list when it asked. Since it does not have access to my contacts it assumes that I do not have any contacts and shows every name. This is a what people in my trade call a BUG.
    Resolution : Ask me to either allow access to contacts or accept that I will be shown all names even if it is of your Dad. That way the user will never be confused.
    Image Source: Truecaller Press Kit
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I have helped many startups in building their products and I would be happy to have a chat with you about your idea. Catch me on twitter at @akhilrex