Facebook unveiled another standalone app on Wednesday, the latest in a rapidly expanding suite of them. Dubbed Hello, the app is a dialer that functions as a sort of virtual phonebook, using Facebook profile information to add social network context to contacts.
Hello matches incoming calls with the Facebook profiles of its users, scanning phone numbers and comparing them to those of their Facebook friends. When the app finds a match, it displays associated profile information — name, picture, mutual friends, etc. Hello only displays information that people have already shared with their friends — or publicly — on Facebook. It's an interesting use of Facebook's storehouse of user information and a smart way of extending its usability to new real-world applications.
Also built into Hello is a local listings search that enables quick and easy interaction with businesses with a Facebook presence. Need your favorite pizza joint's phone number? Just type in the first few letters of its name and — if it's got a Facebook page — Hello will return it along with an address and an average star rating from Facebook users. It's a potentially handy feature and one that raises Hello above the typical dialer app.
For Facebook, Hello is part of an ongoing effort to the put the company at the center of our mobile communications, one that's seen quite a bit of success recently. According to Facebook's latest earnings report, the company's WhatsApp and Messenger applications are responsible for delivering 45 billion messages per day and making 10% of all mobile VOIP calls.