Facebook is trying to take over your phone. Last month, the company relaunched its messenger service, and now, Mark Zuckerberg wants you to make voice calls via Facebook, too.
Hello, the new voice-calling app from Facebook, is aiming to replace the standard Android dialer. The app integrates with your Facebook account and instantly provides details about anyone calling your handset.
The free Android-only app displays information about the person calling you, if they are one of your Facebook friends. You can also search for people or businesses on the app and call them with a tap, provided they have made their number public on Facebook.
Users can easily block unwanted calls either by typing a specific number to screen or by selecting the option to stop calls from commonly blocked numbers. The calls aren't actually blocked but rather sent directly to voicemail, so if an important call is somehow accidentally screened, you can still pick up a message.
Hello is designed by the Messenger team and also features VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) calling. These are basically voice calls made over your Wi-Fi or mobile data connection, which are generally free of charge. When reviewing missed calls, users are prompted to respond via Facebook Messenger.
Hello is organized into four main tabs: recent calls, the dialer, contacts and settings. When you receive a call from a new number, Facebook attempts to match it with a user profile. If it finds a match and the user has chosen to let Facebook users find them by their phone number, the person's face and a miniature profile will pop up on your phone. You'll see their face, hometown and whether you have mutual friends, among other info. After the call, you can view additional information, including their email address and a website if they've added one.
It's a further step from the company to expand its mobile offering beyond the news feed in your Facebook app. Hello certainly offers a lot more than the standard Android dialer, but the important question is if it offers enough extra functionality to convince people to bother downloading another app. Users already rejected Home, Facebook's attempt to replace the Android home screen, which had a huge launch in 2013 but has already disappeared. It'll be interesting to see if, two years later, people are more willing to accept Facebook functionality outside their Facebook app.