Facebook appears to have given up on Hello, a Truecaller-like social ID app that it began to publicly test in select markets two years ago, as Android and iOS introduce similar built-in features for their customers.
Available exclusively on Android, Facebook’s Hello – Caller ID & Blocking app tapped the network’s social graph to display information about the person a Hello user was attempting to call, or receiving a call from. Additionally, the app, which also served as the default calling app on Android, could also be used to block users.
At the time of the initial release Hello was only available in three markets: the United States, Nigeria, and Brazil. The company had noted that it intends to bring the social ID app to more places. But two years later, not only is the company yet to expand the reach of Hello app to more geographies, it hasn’t even released any software updates to fix issues with the app.
The Google Play listing of Hello app is filled with bad user reviews, but the company, which updates its Messenger and marquee Facebook app once or twice every week on Android and iOS, hasn’t pushed any updates to Hello in two years. A spokeswoman of Facebook did not comment on this story. According to app analytics firm App Annie, Hello app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times on Google Play worldwide.
“Hasn’t been updated in almost 2 years so I assume it’s basically been abandoned,” a user wrote earlier this year. “I set it as the default dialler on my [Samsung Galaxy] S7 but it isn’t recognised and incoming calls use my stock dialler,” the user added. “Nice idea. Faulty execution Supposed to block spam calls. The rare case it does you get multiple notifications. No time saved dismissing those,” another user adds. “This is a joke. I tried my neighbourhood public library phone number and it did not find it. I put the number in the Google search box and it showed me the info for that number in the first link,” a different user added.
The company began publicly testing Hello in April 2015. At the time, Hello Product Manager Andrea Vaccari said the app could solve a major problem. “More than 1 billion phone calls are made in the US ever day. The experience of the phone call hasn’t evolved in a long time.” According to Vaccari’s LinkedIn profile, he is now working on Messenger.
As Facebook abandons the app, its popularity is also dropping. “In the US, Hello has been downloaded from Google Play for close to 327,000 times since it first launched in 2015. And in Brazil, that number is about 147,000. In Nigeria, Hello has approximately 20,000 downloads from Google Play since 2016,” Ruika Lin, mobile insights strategist at analytics firm Sensor Tower told Gadgets 360.
In the recent quarters, with little push from Facebook, the app is seeing a decline in number of downloads. “So in the US, the app experienced an initial surge in downloads within the first week or so after it rolled out on April 22, 2015. Then downloads went pretty flat for about a month and a half, and it had a second surge in late June 2015, which lasted for a little over a week till early July. Since early July 2015, the install has been pretty much flat and minimal,” Sensor Tower’s Lin added.
“In Brazil, the initial surge of downloads lasted for also about a week, and daily downloads have been flat and minimal since early May 2015. Daily downloads in Nigeria since the beginning of 2016 have also been flat and minimal. Overall, in the past six months and a year, downloads of the Hello app have been pretty flat for all three countries, showing no significant fluctuation.”
It’s unclear why Facebook gave up on Hello, as several people found the app useful, going by their reviews. Perhaps it’s because users don’t need such an app any more. Google introduced a similar feature in Android in 2016, and with iOS 10, Apple also opened CallKit, allowing apps such as Truecaller, which has over 200 million active users and sees over three billion searches, dialler access.