Josh Lowensohn/flickr

Josh Lowensohn/flickr

Less than a year after the recent expansion of Facebook’s Messenger app, the social media giant continues to expand into new areas of our digital lives with the launch of “Hello,” a foray into the most fundamental aspect of any phone: making calls.

Facebook is something that needs neither an introduction nor an explanation — [tweetable alt=”With 1.32 billion active users as of July 2014, @facebook is the most popular #socialmedia #app.” hashtag=””]with 1.32 billion active users as of July 2014,[/tweetable] as reported by the Daily Mail, it’s the most-used social network worldwide.

To remain on top of the list, Facebook has had to constantly expand and adapt to what its users want and need, and because of this, it’s grown exponentially since its creation.

Beginning just as a website, Facebook adapted to advances in smartphone technology by launching the first Facebook app in 2008. In 2011, Facebook Messenger arrived, allowing an alternative to texting using mobile internet — now, it’s launching Hello.

Making Your Smartphone Smarter

As Raymond Wong claimed in Mashable, most phone apps on smartphones are “really dumb” — [tweetable alt=”#Hello from @facebook is an attempt at a #phone #app that’s a little smarter, says @mashable.” hashtag=””]Hello is an attempt at something a little smarter.[/tweetable] Firstly, it offers free calls, as well as the option to text contacts using Facebook Messenger.

People’s names (as well as their phone number, job title, mutual friends, and even their birthday) appear when they call you, even if they aren’t in your contacts list, and there’s the option to easily block calls from any specific individual.

All these features make the app seem more like a luxury than a necessity, or perhaps just a slightly more well-rounded calling system. A lot of the uniqueness of Hello, however, lies in the specifics of its functionality.

With Hello, a user can look someone up on Facebook and use the information on their page to call them without having to add their number to the contacts list. Despite privacy concerns, product manager Andrea Vaccari assures users that the only information that will appear is “info they could otherwise find on Facebook.”

The uses for Hello extend even beyond contact with just another person — say, for example, you want to go out for a meal and need to make a reservation. With Hello, you can look up the name of the restaurant and be provided with a phone number, opening hours, and even a location on the in-app Google Maps function.

What’s the Point of It?

Opopododo/flickr

Opopododo/flickr

Hello isn’t just Facebook’s attempt to take full control of our smartphones or to turn us all into drones who answer only to them. Vaccari notes that the app was created because “people often have very little information about who’s calling them.”

As with Facebook’s other products, Hello is an endeavour to provide its users with a better-functioning calling platform and to make their smartphones a little more cohesive and integrated — in this case, by combining information from your Facebook profile with the contact information you have stored on your phone.

The Future of Hello

Although Hello is currently only available for free on Android through the Google Play Store, the majority of reviews so far are extremely positive. Facebook was simply striving to create a better calling experience, and based on the initial reviews of Hello, it seems like they may have succeeded.

There’s currently no mention of the app being adapted for iPhone users, but with the initial success of the Android app, and given Facebook’s history of success, it’s safe to assume that it won’t be long until Hello is available on any smartphone.

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