The people whose calls you dodge are sure to love this new app from Facebook.
On May 26, Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team announced the launch of an app that’s basically Houseparty for phone calls (not video calls). CatchUp lets users see who’s available to voice chat and allows them to initiate both one-on-one and group calls.
CatchUp is a standalone app that is not connected with the Facebook app. You don’t have to have a Facebook account, or an account with another Facebook-owned company, to use it.
Instead of running on Facebook friends, it works by letting the app access the contacts in your phone.
So, it doesn’t mean all of your relatives who are your Facebook friends will be able to call you more easily — just all the randos in your contacts who have also downloaded CatchUp.
Some writers have been lauding the value of phone calls over video chats. The New York Times made much of the fact that phone call volume has increased more than internet use has during the pandemic. Facebook says NPE Team developers are trying to solve the problem of people hesitant to place a call because they fear they’ll reach someone at a bad time. Hence: CatchUp’s “Ready to Talk” section, which displays people and groups who are on and using the app.
Clearly, it’s early days for CatchUp. It’s a bit soon to tell how it could play into the business, presuming the app sees any success. But Facebook’s moves to integrate Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp over the years could provide a clue that it wouldn’t stay a walled-off service in the long run.
Facebook says it is “testing” CatchUp for a “limited time” in the United States for iOS and Android. If you’re fine with giving a Facebook-affiliated service access to your contacts, you can download it now.