Facebook Unveils “Hello” – a New Android-Only App
Published on April 27, 2015
When we first heard Facebook was releasing another app, we were hesitant to buy in, especially after the Messenger fiasco last year. However, Facebook's newest app - "Hello" - seems to hold up in terms of privacy features, and add some pretty helpful functionality to your Android phone. Here are the deets that TechCrunch recently laid out.
An Overview of the Hello App
Facebook's newest app essentially eliminates the "unknown" aspect of unknown numbers. Hello matches phone numbers of incoming and outgoing calls to Facebook profiles, showing you who's calling with a built-in caller ID system.
It also has the ability to block calls from numbers that are commonly blocked, as well as enable you to search for businesses to call directly within the app itself.
Here are some of Hello's specific features.
A Synced Phone Book
With your permission, Hello adds profile pictures and other info to the contacts in your address book. Within the app itself, Hello can also serve as an enhanced phone book in of itself, displaying more extensive info about your friends.
In connection with the phone book feature, Hello pulls from the Facebook database with those with privacy settings for "Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?" of "Everyone" or "Friends of Friends" (that you're a part of, of course). When these individuals call you, Facebook will display whatever information they've provided on Facebook, including their bio info, current city, home town, and employer on screen right when they call you.
In reverse, you can also get info about the people you're calling, noticing if they've got a new job or moved to a new city.
Free VOIP Calls
This added bonus enables free Voice Over IP calling. If you hang up on someone or end a call, you'll be directed to another card of info about the caller which shows if this caller has Facebook Messenger installed. You can then make a one-tap Voice Over IP call for free. You can also access this page by ignoring a standard incoming call, and then VOIP them back with no charge.
Hello also integrates a smart search bar at the top of the screen, enabling you to not only search for contacts, but businesses as well. Facebook imports important information for businesses right there in the app, like a phone number for one-tap calling, open hours, and general info about the business. You can also search for general business genres (like Pizza) to get a variety of options to choose from.
The app lets you know if a number that is calling you is a commonly blocked number, letting you know how many others have blocked the number. You can also set up the app to prevent your phone from ringing or vibrating to these kinds of numbers.
If you want to maintain your privacy, you can switch who can find your phone number and contact information to Friends of Friends, or limit your public bio.
So far, Hello is only available for Android, as iOS doesn't allow apps to interact with phone calls. It is unlikely an iOS version will be released any time soon.
While Hello isn't being monetized at the moment, the structure of the app leaves the door wide open, particularly for businesses. The business search feature alone could lend itself to Facebook selling search result ads.
We could also see a business instant messaging feature, enabling Messenger chat with e-commerce retailers, come in to play.
Hello seems seems to provide a gentle utility without too much intrusion. It is a well-built app. We will have to wait and see if popularity is accumulated.