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How To Filter Junk SMS On iOS 11

Last week, we talked about SMS Junk tab in the Message app in iOS 11. It’s a new feature that can filter out spam SMS. Unlike the ‘Unknown sender’ filter that Apple added in iOS 11, this one is purely for SMS/text messages. Apple took it upon itself to fight iMessage spam with the Unknown Sender option but it didn’t have a mechanism in place to deal with the SMS spam users get. It’s found a nice comfortable work around though; developers. You can install an app to filter junk SMS on iOS 11. The app is supposed to be built to work with the new SMS junk feature.

Filter Junk SMS On iOS 11

We’ve been testing a few apps out to see which one works well, and to gauge how well it works. We have founda reasonably good option; Siever. Siever is a free app but it requires a subscription. You can test it out for free for one month. After that, you need to subscribe to the service. It’s $0.99/month, or $6.99/ year which is a really awesome rate for a year’s worth of any service.

Download Siever from the App Store. It will ask you where you want the messages to be analyzed. You have two options; on your device, or remotely on Siever’s servers. In either case, the app promises your messages aren’t sold or shared with anyone. Once you select where the messages are to be analyzed, open the Settings app. Go to Messages>Unknown & Spam, and select Siever under SMS Filtering. Sit back and let the app do its job.

How Well Does It Work?

We tested the app out over the course of one week with both local/on-device analysis, and remote analysis. It goes without saying that the app is better at identifying spam when it analyses the messages via its own servers. The app basically filters out all messages that are from an unknown sender however, it will also filter out some messages from known or identified contacts such your carrier.

During tests, the app blocked a series of messages from my bank that alert me when I make a transaction and it blocked messages from my service provider. The service provider message alerted me to my daily SMS usage. The app also blocked several numbers that were attempting to sell me clothes and herbal medication I’m pretty sure I don’t need.

The SMS from the bank were likely blocked because the number doesn’t identify itself. The app treated it like any other unknown number. The carrier message wasn’t one that I ever read. In fact, I have it set to Do Not Disturb. The other messages were all from unknown senders and they were indeed spam. Of course, the number being a contact isn’t the only thing the app looks at. The content of the message matters too.

Siever is definitely worth trying out. The app can learn with time and you can help it along by identifying a spam message and/or sender. The only thing the app is missing is a way to tell it it’s wrong. For example, I did need to see the messages from my bank but Siever doesn’t let me whitelist a sender.

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