Facebook phone? No, we’re not talking about a new Facebook-branded smartphone (and we’re happy that we’ll likely never see those rumors again). We are, however, talking about a potential app that Facebook is allegedly testing out—the details of which were accidentally leaked via a server-side update to the Facebook app, which was probably fixed rather quickly.
According to Android Police, the new app is called Phone—at least, we’re pretty sure it’s an app, given that the description briefly found within Facebook’s app indicated that you could “install or update” Phone to try it out. Tapping on the option to install or update to Phone did nothing, since Phone (with a [FB-ONLY] tag appended to the name) is likely something that only Facebook employees can access internally.
However, the description of Phone seems to indicate that the app, which is likely just an app meant to replace your smartphone’s standard dialing functionality, would allow users to receive information about who is calling them whenever the call comes in. We can only surmise that this info would come from Facebook itself, and it’s unclear whether Facebook would only cough up information on your smartphone’s screen for your Facebook friends, or any Facebook user who has let Facebook know his or her phone number.
Facebook’s Phone app would also “block calls from commonly blocked numbers,” which is a bit vague. We don’t yet know whether that means Facebook’s dialer would block calls from people that you’ve already elected to block on your specific device—which would be a good thing—or people you’ve also blocked on Facebook itself. That, or perhaps Facebook is applying some kind of groupthink technique to dialer, and telemarketing calls that a number of people might tend to block would then be blocked for all.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that Phone exists to Venturebeat, but that’s the only detail said person would share.
“We are always testing things and have nothing to announce at this time,” the spokesperson said.
You can bet, however, that Facebook would only launch Phone—if it does—as an Android app. Apple, to little surprise, is very particular about letting other apps completely replace its smartphones’ core abilities.