Facebook has announced the launch of its audio-only calling app, CatchUp, that lets users make 1-on-1 as well as group audio calls, with a single touch. The app allows you to engage in a conversation with 8 people at a time, so users can go nuts with an extravaganza of umlimited, free calling.
The app was developed by Facebook’s NPE team, and does not require to be linked to a Facebook account. Thus, you can download the app even if you don’t have a Facebook account, and be ready to place calls. So how does the app differentiate itself from the plethora of calling apps that are available on the internet?
Well, first and foremost, the app is only available for audio calls. Some might suggest that this is a lack of functionality rather than a selling point, but the people at Facebook would like to differ. The company says that the app can be beneficial for people who are not always up for a video chat, maybe because they don’t feel video ready or are trying to multitask and not stare at a computer screen for hours.
Another exciting feature is the presence of a “Ready to Talk” on the top section of its home screen, which lets callers know who is, as the name suggests, ready to talk. While the feature is not exactly new, and has debuted on HouseParty in the form of “Here”, it is still appreciated. The company suggests that the reason audio calls have become so rare is because people are worried if anyone is even ready for a call. The calls that go unanswered end up in voicemails, which no one listens, and thus the reliance on texting becomes even greater.
Facebook already provides audio calling through various platforms, but in CatchUp, you wouldn’t need to have a Facebook account. The app will access your contact list, and use that to place calls instead.
The app’s USP seems to be its ease of access, allowing calls to be placed in a single touch. This can help technologically challenged people, like grandma and grandpa, gain access to high quality, free audio calling. Moreover, you wouldn’t need to place a call and then merge users like on a phone’s calling app, which frankly, is very refreshing.
In terms of roll-out, CatchUp is currently being tested in limited capacity across iOS and Android devices. What is important to note though, is that NPE products are experimental stuff from Facebook, and may or may not go live. And even if they do go live, expect a plethora of changes from what you are originally seeing today.