This feature has taken us a long time to confirm, readers - sorry about that. Testing it would have required us to call 9-1-1 for the sole purpose of testing out a neat new tool on a smartphone, and aside from being extremely illegal, none of us wanted to explain to a hard-working emergency dispatcher that we were using a vital service to write up a blog post. And on that note, please, pleasedon't test out this feature on your own Android M preview build.
Facebook's Hello dialer is an interesting extension of the social service into core telephony functions. That said, the original release was a bit barebones and left a lot to be desired. Version 2.0 (which has come just a couple of months after the initial release) adds some important features and a tweaked interface that should win it a few more converts from the stock dialer app. Chief among these are the ability to filter the contact view to just those contacts with phone numbers, and notifications for missed and blocked calls.
April was a bit sparse when it comes to new apps - there aren't any real standouts, though Facebook certainly made a splash with its self-branded phone dialer. The rest of the best picks from last month are mostly advanced tools for power users, or in the case of the impressive edjing, experienced music producers. Here in no particular order are our picks for the best of the lot, plus a few honorable mentions that might have broader appeal.
Ready is a third-party dialer that, from the beginning, has prided itself on being prettier than the one you're currently using. And for people where looks aren't enough, it consolidates various aspects of mobile communication into one place in order to improve the experience of actually making calls. You can know when you last talked, what was said in your last text, and when the next meeting is scheduled for all as you dial a person's number.
It's easy to forget, but smartphones are supposed to be phones. Shocking, I know. Ignoring this most basic of functions is no good, though. Ready Contact List for Android can make your calls more efficient and attractive, and it's out of beta today.
Ready wants to reinvigorate the part of your phone that, in ye olden days, was all that mattered. That's right, it wants to improve how you make phone calls. Rather than gutting out your home screen and replacing it with something quirky, it tackles your dialer instead.
The Ready developers have tasked themselves with making contacts easier to see and communicate with. The app does so by not only tweaking how contacts are presented, but by creating useful shortcuts as well.
Google Now is seemingly getting smarter almost everyweek, at least that's how often we seem to run into subtle (but clever) changes. By now you probably know that with Google Now, you can set reminders for just about anything. "OK Google, remind me to call the doctor tomorrow at noon" will let you set that reminder with a single tap.
But did you know that Google Now will parse your queries for known associations with phone numbers and add a Call button automatically?
Some interesting screenshots have just appeared on XDA that purport to show a new look for the Google Dialer in Android 4.4.3. The contacts are arranged in a series of cards with contact photos instead of a traditional list. It's quite a departure from the current look.
Much of Android is open to tinkerers, but Google has gradually closed off more and more of the default functionality. The most awesome aspects of the KitKat dialer - its ability to search for businesses and contacts from within the app - were not included in the open source version. So what's a ROM developer to do? Why, create their own alternative. The OmniROM folks have previously shown off their work, and now the CyanogenMod team has packed similar functionality, albeit seemingly more powerful, into the latest nightlies.
As if you needed another reason to lust after the Nexus 5 and/or Android 4.4, Google just announced a huge new feature for the default Phone app in KitKat. The new version of the dialer/contacts app will match incoming numbers against Google's various databases to provide an automatic caller ID for businesses using Google Places, as we've already seen. But starting next year, this feature will be applied to people as well.