WhitePages recently launched a new app that tied in a bunch of social networks to a contacts and caller ID app. With it all incoming calls from contacts show the latest status updates across Facebook and Twitter, most recent title from LinkedIn, and local weather and news. We shot a few questions to the development team about working on Android and take the oportunity to dig a bit deeper into Current Caller ID.
We all know about WhitePages, but can you tell us a bit about how you've been active in mobile historically?
WhitePages has been developing for the mobile world since 2008 and it has since become the fastest
growing part of our business with a top-50 mobile website and popular Android, iPhone, BlackBerry,
webOS and Windows 7 applications recently surpassing 8 million active monthly users. We have a top-
notch development and design team who are mobile experts across platforms and are regularly involved
in industry events such as Google I/O. Recently, we traveled to Barcelona to Mobile World Congress to
be featured in the Google booth with an early version of Current Caller ID. We’ve invested heavily in
mobile, and continue to see this as a growth opportunity for WhitePages.
Your new Current Caller ID app seems like a pretty distinct departure from what you've been doing
before. Can you tell us what led White Pages to go in this direction?
With our previous Caller ID app, we saw that 60% of incoming calls were from people already in the
address book, and felt these frequent contacts were also within the user’s social graph. - Between
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, we knew that consumers were also overwhelmed with too many
connections and statuses and may be missing updates from important people. So we set out to marry
call and text ID with social status, local news and weather to create a single useful service that makes it
easy for people to instantaneously stay up-to-date with the people they communicate with the most.
This approach allows us to move well beyond making Caller ID just about a name and a number and
provide consumers timely, relevant information to keep on top of things in an information overloaded
This looks an awful lot like an address book replacement. Could users realistically sub out the native
contacts app and use Current Caller ID full-time, or is it meant to coexist with the core Android app?
In some scenarios, yes, you could use Current Caller ID as an address book or dialer. However, it’s
completely complementary with the core Android contacts app. Current remembers names for
everyone you call or text, even if they’re not in your address book – like a pizza shop or unexpected
caller – so it makes a pretty convenient launch pad for calling or texting. However, great care was taken
in developing the UI to enhance the native device experience. For example, the incoming call alert is
seamlessly integrated into the call screen and is movable and dismissible so as not to interfere with the
native controls. Notifications are built to provide additional information instead of duplicating what
the device already does well. In addition, consumers can easily save contacts from Current Caller ID
to the native contacts app and can open the native contacts app from Current Caller ID to search for a
number. So to sum it up, you can use the native contacts app, and still get the full benefit of Current
Caller ID – which means that you don’t have to change how you use the phone today.
There are a lot of deep stats on how often users communicate with their contacts. How useful is that
really going to be? All I could see it doing is make me feel guilty for how little I call my mom.
The infographics are both fun and useful, providing colorful stats that give insight into your relationships
with people, so you can in turn be a better communicator. For example, it may be very useful to know
that you are way out of balance on the incoming to outgoing text ratio with a close friend. The stats
can also boost productivity. We conducted a study with Harris Interactive that showed that 58% of
smartphone/cell phone users don’t know the best time to call or text when their contact is available to
reply. You could share the ‘Best time to Reach Me’ info-graphic with your mom to let her know when you are available, so maybe you could squeeze in another call now and then.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all heavily leveraged in Current Caller ID, but are you looking at
any other networks? How about location data?
Yes, we will be adding more networks to Current Caller ID very soon. Stay tuned! Location data is a huge
differentiator for a great mobile experience, and it’s been a big focus for us. For example, our Android
Localicious App was recently recognized as a Webby Award Honoree in the Best Use of GPS or Location
Technology category. We’ve initially incorporated location data into Current Caller ID by surfacing the
city and state of the caller, and providing news and weather based on that location. Going forward, we
know there will be many ways to evolve the use of location data in Current Caller ID.
What can we expect next from White Pages in the world of Android?
A lot of people don’t realize that WhitePages now powers over 2 billion people and business searches
per year. There’s an explosive growth in the world of people contact data and WhitePages is a leader
in this space with contact information for over 200 million U.S. adults. We are huge fans of developing
on Android. The open platform facilitates device and app innovation -- for example, Current Caller ID,
which accesses Android core functionality, is not possible on the iOS platform. We are excited about the
design and UI that Android introduced with Ice Cream Sandwich, which we leveraged with Current Caller
ID. And Google’s seamless app publishing process allows us to do rapid deployment and to plan launch
marketing. The combination of people data, the power of local and social, and a great platform gets us
pretty excited about being able to develop entirely new innovative ways to find and connect with people
and places on mobile.
Current Caller ID is currently available in Google Play for free, with an in-app purchase to upgrade with extended contact correspondence tracking. Be sure to check out our full review for a closer look at the app.