Facebook Launches “CatchUp” for Limited Internal Testing

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated July 12, 2021

Facebook is planning to release a new audio chat app called “CatchUp,” which has just been launched for internal testing in the social media company. The app enables users to check who’s online and available to take a call, something unique in the field. Not many apps of this kind feature a live status system to indicate who is likely to answer your call. Apart from that, CatchUp supports group calls of up to eight people, which is pretty impressive, although it could be quite confusing without a video feed.

Speaking of which, this is another notable difference between CatchUp and the competition, since Facebook’s app doesn’t support video but only audio calls. This gives it a niche and places it in the realm of calling tools. Facebook doesn’t want to go against video conferencing apps but intends to present the world with a new and more awesome calling app. As the tech company explains, people don’t make phone calls because they have no way of knowing when someone is busy doing something else. This creates a feeling that they risk interrupting the other person, so they end up never calling.


Source: Facebook

Thus, Facebook wants to take all the stuff that goes into chat apps and have people pass it through CatchUp instead. Meanwhile, video apps will continue to dominate. However, the fact that they aren’t always the ideal communication method during inconvenient times still preserves a space for CatchUp to thrive in. All that said, this seemingly simple idea from Facebook really does make a lot of practical sense. The company says they had this idea for quite a while now but decided to accelerate its development due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

CatchUp doesn’t require a Facebook account to work but instead will parse your local contacts list to check who is online and who’s not available to talk upon its launching. Finally, in regards to privacy, there’s also a 1-on-1 mode that can be secured with appropriate settings that will only allow specific contacts to join the channel. Of course, since it is a Facebook app we’re talking about, many fear about their voice being recorded and used for speech AI training or their contact list being uploaded to the social media giant’s servers. Whatever the Facebook engineers’ intention is with this, the company’s troubled past is haunting them - although this is unlikely to prevent CatchUp from being a successful project.

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