Is Facebook’s New CatchUp App Worth Trying?


Illustration for article titled Is Facebook’s New CatchUp App Worth Trying?
Screenshot: Facebook

Facebook recently released an early version of CatchUp, an audio-only chatting app with one useful feature: Users can see when their contacts are available to chat, and strike up conversations (or group calls) with a single tap.

If this sounds like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp without the text and video calling, that’s because it is. It also kinda reminds me of hanging out on Discord servers and chatting with whomever’s online—except CatchUp is just for you and the contacts saved to your phone.

You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play if you want to give it a try. Just be aware that it’s still in preview, so some features may not always work as intended.

How to use CatchUp

Illustration for article titled Is Facebook’s New CatchUp App Worth Trying?
Screenshot: Facebook (Apple App Store)
  1. Create a new profile using your device’s phone number. You do not need a Facebook App to use CatchUp
  2. Tap the toggle at the top-right of the screen to set yourself as “available.” Other users will see you listed as “Ready to Talk,” and can call you or add you to a group.
  3. To start your own call, tap “Join” next to anyone listed under “Ready to Talk.”
  4. If you want to include others on a call, tab over to the contacts list then tap “add” next to their name. You can also tap the “Privacy” icon to adjust the group settings and make a conversation open for anyone to join, or to keep it private. Up to eight users can be in a group call at a time.

Along with the call features, you can also send totally-not-desperate-seeming “Pokes” to offline users if you want to let them know you’re online. Whether they decide to sign in and start chatting is up to them.

Below the “Offline” section is a “Contacts” list. These are users from your phone’s contacts who do not have CatchUp installed, but you can tap “invite” to invite them to install it.

Should you use CatchUp?

In a vacuum, CatchUp is a neat idea. But I’m not entirely sure why this isn’t just integrated into the main Messenger or WhatsApp apps instead.

Sure, not needing a Facebook account is a plus, but Messenger and WhatsApp can be used without a Facebook account, too. I also question whether invites and poke notifications will persuade users to install yet another app when the core Facebook Messenger already has voice, video, and text conversations—and now supports Zoom-like meetings with up to 50 people. And Facebook, or a Facebook-related app, is probably the last thing I’d want to trust with my contact list.

Still, the app is there if you feel a need to expand your chatting capabilities. It’s simple to use, if you decide to give it a shot.