Facebook internal research and development team, the NPE launched a new app called CatchUp. It making easier for users in the United States to coordinate calls or set up a group chat for up to 8 people. Although there are many group chat applications available to users, the unique feature of CatchUp, the app does not allow videoconferences, only audio, when the users are available, it will be marked. Also, CatchUp will not require a Facebook account to use the service-the app only needs to use the contact list of the user’s phone.
CatchUp seems to have some inspiration from Houseparty and users in CatchUp can specify when they can call by setting their status in the app. This is similar to Houseparty’s video chat applications when friends open the application, users can send notifications and mark them as “here” on the application interface, allowing you to see who is online. Similarly, CatchUp displays the user as “ready to speak” in the top area above its main screen, while offline users and other contacts are listed below.
Facebook explained that the original intention of the app was to solve, one of the key reasons why people no longer to make calls that they don’t know when someone has time to talk and they don’t want to interrupt them. Coming to another way, unanswered calls are quickly moving to voicemail, and the receivers are too lazy to check, which forces people to communicate via text messages to chat apps. Although video chat is on the rise, because users are not always ready to make video calls or they are trying to multitask instead of sitting in front of the screen, making calls is often more convenient.
CatchUp solves the problem of not knowing whether calling will disturb others. As long as the user starts the application, you can see who is ready and able to talk. Users can also create and join friends, family, and common contact group apps or they can make a one-to-one call as an alternative to using the phone. The way to make phone calls is also very simple, just one click.
Facebook explained that the idea of this application was generated before the outbreak of COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent isolation, but due to the impact of the outbreak, the NPE team accelerated the development of this application. Although there are now convenient ways to use Facebook’s own Messenger and WhatsApp applications to make voice calls, the difference is that CatchUp can use the phone’s address book to make calls. Users need to download the application, but they do not need to have an existing Facebook account-or-an account of any Facebook-owned company. Also, the simplified user interface of this application makes it easier for older users to browse. This is just a single-screen experience, and you can become an “available” chat by simply switching buttons.
The app also includes privacy features, allowing you to configure which contacts can join your one-to-one calls and group chats. CatchUp is currently being tested on iOS and Android devices in the US for a limited time.