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Meet TRAI’s DND 2.0, the app that could be result in iPhone deactivation in India

DND 2.0 is the latest version of TRAI’s anti-spam and calling application. Here’s why DND app hasn’t been available on iPhones and how things could change with the iOS 12.

tech Updated: Jul 23, 2018 17:19 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
Apple TRAI,DND App,DND iOS
Everything you need to know about TRAI’s DND app.(TRAI/App screenshot)

Millions of iPhone users in India may lose access to telecom networks unless Apple complies with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) latest rules to include the DND app on its iOS platform.

The American tech giant and India’s telecom regulator have been at loggerheads for over two years on making the DND app available for iPhone users. Apple hasn’t allowed the application citing users’ privacy whereas the regulator believes the app is important for reporting pesky calls and messages.

Why DND app couldn’t make it to iOS?
The bone of contention between the regulator and Apple has been the level of access the app can have on the device. Apple is known for its stringent privacy policies and keeping a tight control over its ecosystem. For instance, the DND app on Android can read your call logs, SMSes and contacts. Apple doesn’t allow apps to read your messages — one of the reasons why a few functionalities on Android don’t work on iOS at all. For example, popular call ID app Truecaller has a limited functionality on iPhones as compared to Android.

DND 2.0
India’s telecom regulator recently rolled out the 2.0 version of its DND application. TRAI says the new app has been built from the “ground up” and comes with “intelligent features”. According to the regulator, the app features “an intelligent spam detection engine (for SMS only) to assist the subscriber in reporting” and “crowdsourcing of data about offending messages and calls to speed up detection of unregistered telemarketers”.

The DND application, roughly 10MB in size, aims to be an easy-to-use platform to help users report pesky messages and calls. Users can also track their complaint status within the applications, apart from reporting a spam message or a call. The app also facilitates users to register complaint with their respective telecom service providers if the spam messages are received despite blocking them. In terms of access, the app can read your call logs, messages and contacts.

A closer look at the TRAI DND app. (TRAI/App screenshot)

“TRAI has already explored, with encouraging results, the use of machine learning technologies to classify messages in its DND 2.0 App. These regulations would enable development of newer tools based on Artificial Intelligence or other technologies for an easier subscriber experience in setting preferences, governing consent and reporting violations,” the regulator explains on its website.

“As a result of the platform approach espoused by TRAI, where functions are unbundled and access to information controlled based on permissions, all such solutions would henceforth be possible for third parties to develop. And they would be able to demonstrate the efficacy and security of their solutions in the controlled environment of the Regulatory Sandbox, before products are released for wider use,” said the body in a release.

iOS 12 to make a difference?
But with iOS 12, Apple is being lenient with spam-detecting apps. The latest iteration of its mobile operating system allows to block and report spam messages. But the implementation will be quite different from Android’s.

“To report SMS messages and calls, the user must enable an Unwanted Communication extension in the Settings app. They can only enable one Unwanted Communication extension at a time. In order to report calls, the user swipes left on an item in the Recents list and selects Report. For SMS messages, they press the Report Messages button when it appears in the Messages transcript. Users can also select messages by long-pressing a message and selecting additional messages, then selecting Report Messages,” according to Apple.

Unlike Android, the new update to the software will empower third-party applications to help users block spam. The company is also integrating auto-fill OTPs with iOS 12 — a key feature available on modern Android versions that allows apps to read OTPs from the SMS and swiftly authenticate a user.

It is yet to be seen whether TRAI will accept this update as an alternative to its DND app or update its DND app to match Apple’s App Store policies.

First Published: Jul 23, 2018 14:51 IST