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Facebook says 'Hello' with new dialer app for Android phones

Vying for more real estate on your device, the social network says its new Hello app will help figure out, among other things, who that mystery caller is.


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Facebook's new Hello app replaces the Android native dialer and uses the social network's data to let you know who's calling. Facebook

Facebook on Wednesday introduced a new caller ID-type app for Android phones that it says will block unwanted calls and help search for people and places by drawing in data from the social network.

The Hello app also gets the social-networking giant involved in a form of communication from which it's mostly stayed away -- your phone calls.

Facebook says it's "testing" the Hello app, which is available now as a free download in the Google Play store. Hello essentially replaces the dialer native to phones with Google's Android mobile operating system.

When a user gets a call, the app -- built by Facebook's Messenger team -- shows information about who's calling, even if that number isn't saved in that user's phone. However, it will only show information that people have already shared with the user (or publicly) on Facebook.

Hello lets you "block" specific numbers, which means they get sent directly to voice mail. And you can use it to search for people and businesses on Facebook and call them with just one tap. The app also promotes the use of free calling over Wi-Fi, something that has long been a part of Messenger.

For now, the app is only available in the US, Brazil and Nigeria. As for whether it will ever be offered on Apple's iPhones, a Facebook spokeswoman said it depends how the software tests out on Android.