It’s frustrating to get a call from an unknown number, only for it to be a telemarketer or anyone you want to avoid. If you knew who that number belonged to, you’d never pick up. That’s just one of the things Truecaller does to make it the best contacts and dialer app for Android.
Truecaller is free to download, but supported by ads. You can pay to unlock the ads, but the app is fully functional without it.
Download: Truecaller for Android (Free)
What Makes Truecaller Special
When you install Truecaller, it asks for permission to read and upload your address book to its server. Once it has your contacts, it matches those with its own database. By doing this action with millions of its users, Truecaller has built a powerful database of people’s phone numbers.
Control Your Info: The database also lets users add their own information to it. So if you want a Truecaller user to find you easily, you can save your name and number in it, and switch access to “Public”. It’s the equivalent of listing your phone number in an old-school phone book. By default, only friends of your friends will be able to take advantage of what’s in your address book.
Identify Anything: So when you get a call from a number you don’t have saved, the app will identify the caller with this “friends of your friends” database. The database also works with missed calls, and numbers you copy to your clipboard. Similarly, when you manually dial a number, Truecaller will identify it. All of these require an active internet connection.
Texts, WhatsApp, Viber, and More: Apart from phone calls, Truecaller also identifies unknown numbers from text messages, WhatsApp, Viber, Line, and Telegram. In fact, its sister app, Truemessenger, is excellent to identify numbers and block spam texts.
Search for a Business: Need to find the number of a popular restaurant in your city, or get the number of a service provider? The search feature is like the Yellow Pages. Several businesses identify themselves publicly on Truecaller. So searching for something like “Sony service center” will give you that business’s phone number, in all likelihood. Yup, it’s the smart dialer app Truedialer, now available as a part of Truecaller itself.
Auto-block Spammers: If a known spammer is trying to call you, Truecaller will automatically reject the call. The crowdsourced block list of spammers is updated regularly, and you can manually allow some numbers.
“Last Seen” Status: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other apps tell you when someone was last online. Similarly, you can see when fellow Truecaller users were last on a call, or if they’re busy right now. It’s an enormously helpful feature.
Easily Add Numbers: Truecaller also makes it amazingly easy to update your address book. Often, an unknown number who calls you is a person you know, but rarely talk to. You figure, “Why should I go through the hassle of saving this number to my address book?” Until the next time they call, or you need to call them, and you regret your laziness. But Truecaller minimizes the effort required to save a number, by already adding the caller’s name and other information. In two taps, you can save it.
Contact Actions: Your own contacts get simple to manage too. Long-press on any contact to get a quick menu of shortcut actions. This includes some useful options like editing the number before you call.
Speed Dial and T9: You can add nine speed dial contacts, where you can long-press the number on the pad as a shortcut for calling someone. It also supports T9 dictionary input, which is faster to use at times.
Where Truecaller Falters
No app is perfect, and Truecaller naturally has some flaws. Apart from not working when you’re offline, here are common issues with the app.
No Custom Contact Ringtones: Truecaller isn’t really missing any major features apart from this one. And it’s a big miss too. You can’t set a custom ringtone for a contact through the app. So if you made a custom Android ringtone for your spouse, look elsewhere.
Data and Battery: Like with so many Android apps, Truecaller is always working in the background. That means it is taking up precious battery and using mobile data. It’s advisable to set the app to update profiles and the block list while on Wi-Fi only.
The Best Alternative
If any of these missing features are a deal-breaker for you, then there are a few good alternatives to Truecaller.
Ready is the only contacts app that you should consider instead of Truecaller, in my opinion. That’s mainly because its purpose is entirely different. Truecaller is about being more than your address book. Ready maximizes the address book you already have.
The app shows a contact bubble when someone calls you. This bubble shows your recent conversations, or important information like the caller’s birthday. Once your call is finished, another bubble lets you add notes and other details to the contact card. It’ll be helpful to hold a successful conference call.
Ready is a one-stop hub for everything to know about one of your contacts. You can also directly start WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger calls or messages from within the app.
Ready’s other features, like ringtones, are hidden behind the Pro account. You can unlock those by sharing the app on social networks, or pay a small fee.
Download: Ready for Android (Free)
Everything else pales in comparison to Truecaller or Ready, but you can try them out for yourself.
Addappt: Reverse-engineers the address book. This time, when you update your own information with a new phone number or email address, Addappt will automatically push that to your contacts’ address books. The only catch is they need to be using Addappt too.
Contacts+: Our previous pick for the best contacts app is still a solid choice that does the basics perfectly. But well, it’s just the basics.
Are You Worried About Truecaller’s Privacy?
While Truecaller is the best contacts and dialer app, several users are afraid of its privacy implications. “It seems so intrusive,” is the most common refrain. Are you concerned about the privacy implications, or are you happy to install Truecaller and get a smart address book?
Originally written by Mihir Patkar on March 4th, 2014.