NEW YORK (AP) _ Hello? Anyone there? Facebook unveiled a new voice-calling app for Android phones on Wednesday, the same day that its WhatsApp messaging service introduced voice-calling for iOS devices.
Phone calls, it seems, are not dead yet.
Called “Hello,” the stand-alone app is the seventh child of Facebook Creative Labs, the company’s arm tasked with creating new applications outside of Facebook. Others, such as the news-reading app Paper or the video sharing app Riff, have met with limited success.
Hello’s aim is to give people more information about who is calling them. Because it’s connected to Facebook, Hello users can see information about their callers’ identity even if they don’t count them as a contact.
Hello is currently available in the U.S., Brazil and Nigeria.
Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, has been coming out with its own stand-alone mobile apps to capture more of the time people spend on phones. Besides its Messenger app, though, Facebook’s home-grown efforts have had limited success.
In essence, Hello is meant to replace the voice dialer on your phone. But based on Facebook’s inability to persuade users to install its Home app, which lets Facebook take over the home screen on Android, users may not be too keen on replacing existing smartphone tools with Facebook-branded versions.