NPE (New Product Experimentation) team at Facebook has reportedly launched a CatchUp app. This new app will enable users to make group audio calls to friends and families, with maximum participants of up to 8.
Unlike the social media company’s own Messenger Rooms and other group chat apps, only audio calls are permitted on CatchUp. The new app also indicates when the users are online. Users are not required to create a Facebook account to run the app. The app instead leverages access to the phone’s contact list of the users to make calls. However, users must provide permission for the new app to access the contact list. The company has reportedly claimed that the users can update their own status such as ‘offline’ or ‘ready to talk’ on this chat app.
Facebook has stated that the app will serve the general population who are following the social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic. Friends and families can receive a quick update through messages or video calls. However, connecting people over the phone provides a unique experience of both personal connection and convenience.
As per a research conducted by the company, one of the key reasons behind the infrequent calls and connections between friends and families is due to the concern that they might reach people at an inconvenient time or while they may be unavailable to chat. The recently launched chat app will address this issue and support people to stay connected.
The app will be tested in the U.S. on iOS and Android phones for a limited period. NPE apps of Facebook are experimental in nature and are subject to charge, signifying that it is likely to encounter some changes prior to the global rollout. It also consists of privacy features that enable the configuration of which contacts can join on a conference call or who can participate in the personal 1-on-1 calls.