Caller ID has been helping people screen their calls since the 1980s, and now Facebook is giving it a mobile makeover with an Android app called Hello. Whenever you get a call from someone, Hello will provide the caller’s Facebook profile and let you decide if you want to answer, ignore, or block the caller for good.
In a blog post, Facebook outlined the feature as a new kind of caller ID. “When you get a call, Hello will show you info about who’s calling you, even if you don’t have that number saved in your phone,” the blog post explained. “You will only see info that people have already shared with you on Facebook.” Hello had previously been operating under the name “Phone,” which was an employee-only beta of the new app.
In addition to letting you know who’s on the other end of an incoming call, Hello also comes with a search function that lets you search for businesses you want to call. Just like in Google Maps, users will be able to place phone calls to businesses with “just one tap” directly from the app after they find the restaurant or business they want in the search results. Users can also suggest places to their friends.
Speaking with TechCrunch, Hello Product Manager Andrea Vaccari said that “more than 1 billion phone calls are made in the U.S. ever day,” adding that “the experience of the phone call hasn’t evolved in a long time.” It seems that Facebook thinks it has the power to change the way people make phone calls with Hello. The app certainly adds a social aspect to phone calls that didn’t exist before, while also improving upon caller ID’s basic premise.
Even though it might sound strange that you can see the profile of whoever is calling you, even if you don’t know them personally, there will be no changes in Facebook’s privacy settings. Facebook reasons that all the information that’s being used in Hello is already available publicly on its site. Hello will simply allow you to see the caller’s profile if one exists on Facebook.
There is no word yet whether or not this app will be rolled out to iOS, but seeing as iOS doesn’t let apps access phone calls, it seems iPhone users will just have to wait. In the meantime, Hello is available in the Google Play Store.