The people whose calls you dodge are sure to love this new app from Facebook.

On May 26, Facebook?s New Product Experimentation (NPE) Teamannounced the launch
[] of an app that?s basically?Houseparty?for phone calls (not video calls).
CatchUp, which is free to download, lets users see who?s available to voice
chat, and then allows them to initiate both one-on-one and group calls within
the app.

CatchUp is a standalone app that is not connected with the Facebook app. You
don?t have to have a Facebook account, or an account with another Facebook-owned
company, to use it. Instead of running on Facebook friends, it works by letting
the app access the contacts in your phone and builds your friend list from
there. So, it doesn?t mean all of your relatives who are your Facebook friends
will be able to call you more easily ? just all the randos in your contacts who
have also downloaded CatchUp.

Some writershave been lauding
[]the value
of phone calls over video chats; theNew York Timesmade much of the fact that
phone call volume hasincreased more than internet use has
[] during the pandemic. Facebook says NPE Team developers are trying to solve the
problem of people hesitant to place a call because they fear they?ll reach
someone at a bad time. Hence: CatchUp?s ?Ready to Talk? section, which displays
people and groups who are on and using the app.

Clearly, it?s early days for CatchUp. Since it?s part of Facebook?s
?experimental? division, it?s a bit soon to tell how it could play into the
business, presuming the app sees any success. But Facebook?s moves to
integrate?Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp?over the years could provide a clue
that it wouldn?t stay a walled-off service in the long run.

Facebook says it is ?testing? CatchUp for a ?limited time? in the United States
foriOS [] andAndroid
[] . If you?re ready to chat, and are fine with giving a Facebook-affiliated
service access to your contacts, you can download it now.

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