New Caller ID app Hello works through Facebook


Say bye..bye to unknown phone numbers. Facebook’s new app Hello instantly matches the phone numbers of callers who are making incoming and outgoing callsĀ  to Facebook profiles to show you the information about the caller, block calls from commonly blocked numbers and search for businesses to call. The new app seeks to modernize phone calls and put Facebook as the core of all the communications. Among other features, it allows users to easily make free calls over Wi-Fi.

Facebook Hello

The Android only dialer app is available in the Google Play store as free download and it substitutes the old Android dialer with a significantly more Facebook-focused version. The three main features of the app are – it uses Facebook to identify callers (even if the contacts are not stored on the phone), unwanted callers can be blocked through it and the powerful search feature helps to find numbers of the local businesses.

The app also provides free-calling over Wi-Fi using VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol. This feature which was long seen inside Facebook Messenger will be put to more use inside a dialer. Missed calls can be responded using Messenger through this app.

The app has some unique uses beyond simple Caller ID, said Andrea Vaccari, the product manager of Facebook, specifically for the users with limited minutes or those who use disposable cellphones. It is quite easy to connect the user’s account to any phone number through this pp, so if he/she changes phone often, people can still know the user when he or she calls. This also helps in deciding whether to attend the call or save your minutes. The new technology is expected to serve as a basis for future calling features, especially as Facebook has two other apps that let users make voice calls.

Hello does not change anything about Facebook’s privacy, though it does make personal info more readily visible. It essentially just runs of immediate Facebook graph search on any number the user calls or that calls the user receive. This app works right as long as the users have not changed the default privacy setting that lets people search from using their phone number. This app is very much similar to the caller ID app TrueCaller.

When raised a question why Hello is not part of Messenger, Vaccari replied, “We did not want to force this experience on the 600 million people who are using Messenger. There is a future where we may decide to bring some or all of these features back into Messenger. That’s definitely a possibility.”

Starting today, the access to test the Hello app will start rolling out to Android users in the US, Brazil and Nigeria. If the test is successful, more countries would be added to the list in the coming weeks. Using the app is quite simple. Once downloaded, user would sign in with Facebook and give it permissions to sync the contacts with Facebook and interact with calls. After that, user can decide whether he wants to actively use Hello or let it just show information about the incoming calls.

On the whole, Hello app provides sensible utility without being too pushy. It takes smartness and technology but quite difficult to do it manually in real-time that is, Facebook searching the number of an incoming call, and make it happen automatically. Just because it is well equipped and done, it does not mean it is very popular, though. But Facebook over time can build the best features of Hello into Messenger, the way its hand picked features like stickers and filters from Messenger and Facebook Camera and put them in its main app.