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These days it seems less and less people use their smartphones to make actual calls. But Facebook wants to get you excited about the utilitarian dialer again with Hello, a new app that rethinks the phone experience with a more intelligent caller ID, the ability to easily block or mute callers, and the option to search for people and businesses that aren’t necessarily on your address book.
Hello continuously syncs and matches phone numbers of incoming and outgoing calls to Facebook profiles to show you info about who you’re talking to. You’ll still have access to all your address book contacts, and if the person is already a contact on Facebook you’ll get to see relevant details based on the information that has been shared with you.
But things get more interesting when it comes to unknown numbers.
If you get a call from someone that’s not on your contacts, but that person has shared his or her number publicly or with you on Facebook, you’ll still be able to see who’s calling alongside a profile picture and other general information. You can also permanently block any number with a simple tap, and better yet, you can ask Hello to ignore calls from commonly blocked numbers, such as telemarketing people and other annoying callers.
Facebook friends that haven’t shared their number with you will still show up as contacts. And while you won’t be able to place a regular call, you still have the option of calling or texting them over Facebook Messenger, and get access to whatever other contact information they have shared with you.
Another very convenient feature is the ability to search for people and businesses’ numbers directly from the dialer app. Feel like ordering pizza? Search for your favorite restaurant and place a call. You don’t need to be friends on Facebook as long as the information is publicly listed.
Hello doesn’t bring any new changes to Facebook’s privacy settings or policies -- it merely makes information you already share with contacts on the social network easily accessible in a relevant environment. That said, if you haven’t checked your settings in a while now would be a good time to do it.
Hello is available today exclusively on Android and will be launching in just three countries for now: the United States, Brazil and Nigeria.