TECH
08/09/2012 02:43 pm ET

Current Caller ID: Android App Shows Caller's Facebook Updates, Latest Tweets, Local Weather

Your friend Molly is calling, and she really likes those photos of the baby wombat and kangaroo.

Current Caller ID is a new (free!) caller ID app from WhitePages for your smartphone that augments that boring old White Pages data -- name of caller, city, phone number -- with peripheral information about the person on the other end of the line: Whenever you get a call, you will not only see your caller's name, number and locale; you'll also get the weather where she's calling from, a local news headline from her city, her latest Facebook update, a tweet she just sent out, and her current employment listing on LinkedIn. According to a press release from the company, all of this extra info can "ignite highly engaging phone and text conversations about relevant topics such as social events, travel, accomplishments like promotions and graduations, or a recent concert attended."

(Or, if you use Facebook like most people do, you'll be having a lot of conversations about cute bunny pictures and the Condescending Wonka meme.)

The Current Caller ID app is available for free and is Android-only for now. At its simplest, the app works as a more robust caller ID system: It shows the person's name and number, plus weather conditions and one local news headline in the city where the phone is registered. (One downside I found: The weather and news info uses the phone's area code, rather than the current location of the caller). There's also a neat infographic section of the app that visually maps the communication history between you and your contact: How many calls and texts you've ever sent each other, what time you generally get in touch, how long your average phone call lasts, and -- most dangerously -- a "text balance," which shows how many texts you've sent that person versus how many you've received.

You can also choose to beef up the app -- and this is how the WhitePages app really separates itself -- by connecting to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and Current Caller ID will display that person's latest updates on those social networks, if you two are connected. That way, hypothetically, you'll be quickly informed of your friend's goings-on before your convo.

Here's a commercial the Current Caller ID put together to highlight the best uses for its app:

The idea that you would want to know what a caller has been up to before you have a conversation isn't new: Remember the recent Nokia Windows Phone commercial with the woman who humiliates herself by not realizing that her friend had broken up with Carl? Whether you want those social network updates shoved in your face with each call is (for now, mercifully) a choice, and one that Current Caller ID provides in a nice package.

One can see the appeal, however, with certain friends and family members, of peeking at a recent Facebook status as a refresher or conversation starter before accepting a call. If WhitePages can update its app to show the local weather from where the caller is actually located, rather than where his phone is registered, it will have created a legitimate, modern-world reimagining of its increasingly-obsolete phonebook business.

You can download the Current Caller ID app on the Google Play Store.

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