Video chats are really having a moment right now. But whether you’re still sporting bed head, on the move, or running low on monthly data allowance, not everyone wants (or can afford) face-to-virtual-face contact. Enter CatchUp.
The latest experiment from Facebook’s (New Product Experimentation) NPE Team harkens back to the olden days, when phones were used simply for voice calls. CatchUp helps users stay in touch by showing when family and friends are available for a talk.
“Messaging and video calling are great ways to send a quick update or connect with someone,” product lead Nikki Shah wrote in a blog announcement. “But speaking to someone over the phone offers a unique balance of both convenience and personal connection.”
Toggle the switch at the top of the app to indicate your availability: “Ready to Talk” or “Offline.” That way, Mom knows it’s a good time to call without interrupting your workflow or downtime. Users can also coordinate or join a group chat for an audio-only party. There is no word on how many callers can join a call at once.
“Based on our studies, we found that one of the main reasons people don’t call friends and family more frequently is that they don’t know when they are available to talk or are worried they may reach them at an inconvenient time,” according to Shah. “CatchUp addresses this problem, and even makes group calling as easy as one tap.”
Facebook launched its New Product Experimentation Team in July 2019 with the promise of a number of prototype apps for iOS, Android, and the web. Previous platforms include a private space for long-distance couples, a voice messaging service for Apple Watch, and the Pinterest-esque Hobbi. CatchUp, currently being tested for iOS and Android, is available only in the US for a limited time.