New Facebook App Helps People ‘CatchUp’ via Voice Calls

The latest experimental application from the Facebook NPE Team is CatchUp, which is being tested with Android and iOS users in the U.S.

CatchUp was developed as a way for friends and family to let each other know that they are available for voice conversations, as well as to help coordinate group calls.

Facebook’s internal R&D group, NPE Team, has today launched a new called CatchUp that makes it easier for friends and family in the U.S. to coordinate phone calls or set up group calls with up to 8 . While there are a number of group chat apps available to users today, what makes CatchUp unique is that the calls it enables are audio-only, not video, and it flags when users are available. In addition, CatchUp won’t need a Facebook account to use the service — the app works with your phone’s contacts list.

The report notes that the app seems to take inspiration from Houseparty and some of its features, notably setting a status to show friends and family you are live, there’s also a ‘Ready to Talk’ section of your contacts, so you know who is online and ready to be called.

The app’s description states:

Catching up has never been this easy. See who’s available and effortlessly join one-on-one and group calls. Never play phone tag or make an appointment to call someone again. Keep in touch more, think about it less. Any time you’re free to talk, CatchUp!

Facebook has built the app to address “one of the key reasons people no longer make phone calls”. Namely, not knowing if the other person is free. The app is supposed to remove the uncertainty of knowing whether or not you might be interrupting someone by calling them, and the support for audio-only calls was added because video calling isn’t always convenient.

The app lets users create groups of friends and family, as well as placing one-on-one calls. CatchUp is unique to Messenger and WhatsApp because it works with your phone’s contacts, and doesn’t need a Facebook account to use. It also has a simplified user interface, hopefully making it more accessible to older relatives and those who aren’t tech-savvy.

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