Mobile AppsMobilitySmartphones

Facebook Hello Wants To Make Phone Calls More Social

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Facebook Hello app will let users see extra information on their contacts, but what does it mean for Whatsapp?

Facebook has released a new over the top voice calling application that aims to make phone calls more social and informative.

Built by the brains behind the Messenger app, Facebook Hello connects with your Facebook account to display extra information on the people calling you, as well as providing a quicker way to connect and contact companies or venues with a presence on the site.

Facebook Hello appRing ring

“Billions of calls are made everyday on mobile phones and people often have very little information about who’s calling them,” Andrea Vaccari, Facebook product manager.

When you get a call, Hello will display information about who’s calling you, even if you don’t have that number saved in your phone. However, users will only see information that people have already shared with you on Facebook, which means details such as job title, mutual friends and birthday.

If it’s an unwanted caller, Hello allows you to block specific numbers and adjust whether you want to automatically block calls from commonly blocked numbers, with blocked calls being directed straight to voicemail.

Facebook also hopes the app will allow users better connectivity to businesses, allowing them to quickly view information and call in (see below). This could be making a reservation at a restaurant, getting directions, or even just viewing the menu, all without having to leave the app.

Hello is available now to try out, with users able to download the app via the Play Store.

Facebook Hello appSend and receive

You may be wondering what this means for the future of WhatsApp, Facebook’s other messaging-related app, which also announced it would be offering voice calls last month.

The app also features the ability to send voice messages to your contacts by pressing and holding the microphone icon above the keyboard, but this doesn’t seem to mean that Facebook is looking to combine the two services, according to company CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In an earnings call with investors, Zuckerberg said that both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger had a part to play in the future, as they remain the two biggest messaging apps in the world, although he admitted it does seem “a little bit counterintuitive at first” to own both of them.

However, people use these apps in very different ways, with WhatsApp being very much a “utilitarian” tool, primarily designed to replace text messaging, whereas Messenger focuses on connecting Facebook friends and providing a richer experience.

“Messenger is very focused on expression and the whole set of things that fit into the tools around the Messenger platform,” Zuckerberg said.

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