Facebook’s recent efforts meant to allow group calls for multiple users have often involved video-focused services such as Messenger Rooms, but its research and development team has built an audio-only counterpart. The company today announced that it is experimenting with a new app designed to let you join or set up a phone call with up to eight individuals.
Called CatchUp, the new tool allows you to set your availability status in the app, which will then be visible to your friends and family who are using the app as well. Facebook cited a study that found one of the reasons preventing people from making a phone call was they didn’t know when someone was available to talk or they’re afraid of calling someone at the wrong time. CatchUp is meant to address those concerns. And unlike the complicated process of individually calling a person before merging those calls using a typical dialing app, the new tool requires only a single tap.
In addition, it doesn’t require a Facebook account before anyone can join a group call since it works with your phone’s contact list. Available contacts will appear in the “Ready to Talk” section at the top of the app’s home screen. You can also choose which of your contacts can join a call through the app’s privacy settings (via TechCrunch). It’s available for testing on Android and iOS devices in the U.S. for a limited time.