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Q&A with WhitePages - making caller ID social

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

world.

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. 

Simon has been covering mobile since before the first iPhone came out. After producing news articles, podcasts, review videos, and everything in between, he's now helping industry partners get the word about their latest products. Get in touch with him at simon@futurenet.com.
5 Comments
  • Do not want a ton of stuff showing up each time my phone rings. Seems like it would pretty much be a total fail on CDMA only phones unless you had wifi since you get no net when on a call. If they want to do something in the caller ID space how about feeding me names of people NOT in my address book, and maybe crowd-source THAT info so I know its some cold-call salesmen or political survey ahead of time. {rant mode}
    Why does my smartphone not know the name of a caller when my Comcast account will pop that up on the TV if I want?
    {/end-rant} Google Voice knows what numbers are "spam" and can block them all for you. Crowd source that and you have a worth while app.
  • Actually, with the newer phones being SVDO capable, you do get data and voice at the same time. I do it every day on my GS3 on Sprint.
  • Hi Icebike,
    In addition to providing more information about people in your address book, Current Caller ID identifies unknown callers and texters from the WhitePages trusted database of over 300 million U.S. people and businesses including mobile, telemarketers and other hard to identify numbers. Plus you can customize your incoming call alert to show only the information that you want.
  • I actually use CallApp, which provides you the names of people calling which typically would not. It also brings up a picture of their company when they call. For example my wife works for a hospital when she used to call me the number used to come up as private (or something like that) now with the Call App...app. It shows me the name of her hospital, a picture of her hospital pops up, and even provides the address. If you click on the address it brings you directly to Google Maps. After the second ring it will even read out who is call. While the app could you some work to make it a little more visually pleasing, it's a really good app overall. BTW it also links in to the usual FB, Twitter, Linkdin, G+ and your SMS.
  • I have 2 facebook contacts with the same name and it blends both status updates even though they are 2 different people. It also uses the wrong picture and I couldn't find any way to change or unlink. Uninstalled :(