The world’s largest social network has a tremendous amount of data about the people that inhabit it. Facebook wants to use this to help you identify who is calling you and give you a little more information along the way with a new free app for Android: Facebook Hello.
Of course, you will have to grant it access to your Facebook account to use the app. Hello has two purposes: it is a dialer app and a caller ID app. Let’s take a look at both those aspects individually, and as a whole.
Facebook Hello as a Dialer App
The good thing about Hello is that it incorporates most of the features you need, and it adds a few more aspects.
For example, Hello has a number pad with a T9 dictionary for you to quickly look up a contact with a few taps. You can also set contacts as favorites to find them easily. And you get all the usual call records and other data you will need.
Since it is integrated with Facebook, it combines your phone’s contact list with your Facebook friends list. So when you search for a name, you will get results from your phone as well as from Facebook.
If your Facebook friend has added his or her phone number to their Facebook account, you can directly call them. If not, use Facebook Messenger to make a free VOIP call — it won’t use your talk minutes, but you’ll need an active Internet connection via WiFi, 3G, or 4G.
Similarly, if a contact in your phone’s address book also is your Facebook friend, Facebook will smartly sync those two and present the option to place a direct call or call for free via Messenger.
That said, not everything is perfect. For instance, Hello does not support swipe gestures for shortcuts, like swiping right on a contact to text message them or swiping left to call them.
Hello also ties you in deeply to Facebook. Whereas other dialer apps like Contacts+ integrate different social networks, Hello is all about this single social network. It does not even support other products Facebook owns, like Instagram or WhatsApp, which also has voice calling and free messaging.
Facebook Hello as a Caller ID App
It’s unpleasant to get a call from an unknown number. Hello uses Facebook’s database to provide details of a caller. There are some great caller ID apps for Android, but the crowd-sourced TrueCaller stands out among them. Still, Hello has a few good points of its own.
Unlike TrueCaller, Hello has more accurate data about people. TrueCaller works by analyzing its users’ phonebooks. So I could be saved as just “Mihir” by someone and when I call another person, just the name “Mihir” flashes on screen. That isn’t enough context to be useful as caller ID. On the other hand, Hello uses data from my Facebook profile, so you’ll see my full name and photo when I call. Caller ID is about context, and Hello does that better than TrueCaller.
However, since Hello only displays what Facebook knows about anyone, you won’t always get a result. TrueCaller’s crowd-sourced data recognizes more numbers, since many people still aren’t on Facebook. It’s a question of quantity versus quality.
Hello and TrueCaller are alike in smartly recognizing spam numbers that are commonly blocked by many users, and can automatically block them for you. You’ll also get an alert about such a number if you aren’t automatically blocking.
The app appears as an overlay when you get a call. You can choose to have it show this info for all calls, hidden numbers, or just calls from those who aren’t already in your phone book.
Finally, Hello does not provide further context about an incoming call from someone in your address book. Apps like Ready Contact List will show you recent conversations with them or contextual notes; it would be easy for Facebook to add those, so hopefully we will see those in the future.
Should You Download Hello?
Whether you need Hello or not is tied in with how much you use Facebook. If you have an active Facebook account and several friendships there, Hello can be a great asset. You will get context about your friends when they call, context about people you may know when they call, and even make direct free VOIP calls on Messenger without opening a new app.
Hello is dependent on you giving Facebook your phone number, your phone’s contact list, and other data like call logs. Thankfully, Hello also has an option to delete all the data from Hello or just delete call and search history.
Still, it begs the question: how much personal information are you comfortable giving Facebook? Have you uploaded your phone number already?