Carriers Beware: Facebook Is Testing A New App Called ‘Phone’

23 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Carriers Beware: Facebook Is Testing A New App Called ‘Phone’.

Facebook has accidentally leaked information about a new app that it’s testing, called ‘Phone,’ and this news should come as no surprise to anyone who believes Facebook wants to be at the center of how we communicate with the world around us. Israelis were some of the people around the world who discovered a new Facebook app on their Android phones that seemed to have been prematurely leaked. The app appears to be some sort of native dialler for Android that shows information about who is calling, and which automatically blocks calls from commonly blocked numbers.

According to the information that users saw on their screens, the app will display info about who’s calling you, possibly pooling information from its user database, and will also block numbers that are commonly blocked such as spam. We are, however, talking about a potential app that Facebook is allegedly testing out—the details of which were accidentally leaked via a server-side update to the Facebook app, which was probably fixed rather quickly.

A spokesman confirmed to Venture Beat that Facebook was testing the service, after Android Police first posted a screenshots of an install update that should have only been seen by Facebook’s internal network. According to Android Police, the new app is called Phone—at least, we’re pretty sure it’s an app, given that the description briefly found within Facebook’s app indicated that you could “install or update” Phone to try it out. The app’s existence was first revealed over the weekend on the “Android Police” blog after users took screenshots of the message that appeared on their Facebook “News Feed” and sent it to the blog. Afterwards, Facebook launched its Messenger app and another app called Mentions which allows celebrities and public figures to respond to “mentions” – even enabling them to respond to negative comments made about them on the social network. We can only surmise that this info would come from Facebook itself, and it’s unclear whether Facebook would only cough up information on your smartphone’s screen for your Facebook friends, or any Facebook user who has let Facebook know his or her phone number.

But both these services require that people on either end of the line are using the same Facebook feature, and they can only take place over a mobile carrier data network or WiFi. (It has yet to be confirmed that ‘Phone’ will filter calls being made to your phone number and not just between Facebook users, but the former seems likely. We don’t yet know whether that means Facebook’s dialer would block calls from people that you’ve already elected to block on your specific device—which would be a good thing—or people you’ve also blocked on Facebook itself.

That, or perhaps Facebook is applying some kind of groupthink technique to dialer, and telemarketing calls that a number of people might tend to block would then be blocked for all. International carriers like Vodafone and BT Group are still stinging from the huge bite of SMS revenues that WhatsApp, the globally popular messaging service with 700 million active users, took out over the last five years with its free texting service.

It’s easy to dismiss a new, forthcoming app from Facebook as yet another failed experiment that will get tossed on the same heap where Slingshot, Poke and the Android launcher Facebook Home reside. That could eventually mean weaning consumers off their reliance on carriers’ voice and texting services, and driving the role of carriers further down into the ground as “dumb pipes” that transport our data and not too much more.

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