Back in March, it slipped that Facebook was testing a new phone app that would serve as an Android dialer and caller ID app. Internal testing called it "Phone".
Now that app has materialized as Hello, which Facebook is launching today.
"Billions of calls are made everyday on mobile phones and people often have very little information about who’s calling them. Today we are starting to test Hello, a new app built by the Messenger team. Hello connects with Facebook so you can see who’s calling, block unwanted calls and search for people and places," says Facebook Product Manager Andrea Vaccari.
As a caller ID app, Hello has a lot going for it. If there's one thing Facebook has a lot of, other than confidence that you'll want to download dozens of standalone Facebook apps, it's phone numbers. As long as a person's phone number is public, Hello will show you their profile picture and any other public information about them – which a nice way to avoid that creeper that keeps calling you.
Of course, all the info makes blocking numbers much easier. Plus, if a number is manually blocked all the time, Facebook's Hello will block it automatically for you.
"From your settings, you can block specific numbers and adjust whether you want to automatically blocks calls from commonly blocked numbers. Blocked calls go straight to voicemail and can be reviewed in your recent calls," says Vaccari.
Apart from its function as a dialer and advanced caller ID app, Hello also leverages Facebook's data troves to form a pretty massive business directory. Let's say you look up a restaurant down the street – Hello will show you an image, business hours, its Facebook rating, and quick links to call (via cellular or free via Messenger).
If you're interested, you can download Hello today for Android. Sorry, iOS users – no dice. iOS doesn't play nice with apps trying to access the phone function.
Sure, there is plenty of useful stuff inside Hello. It's also another app from Facebook that's not the main Facebook app. You should get used to Facebook pumping out standalone apps. It's not going to slow down. We'll see if, in the end, this is a good or bad thing. It all depends on the apps' usefulness. What I can say about Hello is that it's a hell of a lot more useful than Slingshot.
Image via Facebook, Vimeo