For Truecaller, an app that offers real-time caller ID and spam protection, the past two years have been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride.
On one hand, the eight-year-old service continues to grow strongly in developing markets, and has also chalked out plans to attract people globally.
On the other hand, several features that made Truecaller so popular are now shipping out of the box with iPhone and Android smartphones.
So what does the Swedish company doing to survive in the market? Partnerships, mostly, it said today at an event in New Delhi.
On Tuesday, Truecaller announced it has inked a deal with Google (no less), India’s giant ICICI Bank, and the country largest carrier (for now) Airtel to add more functionalities to its flagship app and push the service to more handsets.
Truecaller on feature phones
Truecaller is coming to all the feature phone users in India who’re on Airtel network, the company announced today. Dubbed “Airtel Truecaller ID”, the feature will work without internet connectivity.
Feature phone users will see a “flash” card appear seconds before they receive a call, Kim Fai Kok, Director of Communications at Truecaller explained to Mashable at a pre-release briefing.
Even though feature phones are quickly disappearing from Western markets, they are still very popular in India. Last year alone, about 148 million such handsets shipped in the country, according to marketing research firm Counterpoint.
Partnership with Google
Truecaller said it has entered into a strategic agreement with Google as part of which it will integrate Google Duo video calling option in Truecaller app.
“This will add a crucial communications layer that strengthens the value of Truecaller’s wildly popular dialer, caller ID, and spam blocking app already used by more than 250 million users globally,” the company said in a press statement.
Partnership with ICICI Bank
Trying to ride on India’s demonetisation wave, Truecaller said its app now allows users to transfer money to their friends. The feature will work for users who have an ICICI Bank account, or are registered to use UPI-based payment solutions.
We asked the company how this feature works, and Kim clarified that the company has no intentions of using its platform as a “bucket” or an intermediary mobile wallet (think of Paytm). Instead, the company is using IMPS protocol to send the money to recipient’s account instantly. Users will see this option on both Android and iOS app of Truecaller starting today.
Bells and whistles
Fai Kok added that the company is bringing some of the features of Truemessenger, another app from the Swedish company, to the flagship app. Truecaller app will become home to all text messages, too. The company’s executive didn’t share whether they intend to retire Truemessenger app, however.
The second feature is called “flash message” which will allow Truecaller users to quickly pick one of the pre-defined messages and send it to their friends. The message will appear as a flash card, much like how real-time info appears on the screen.
Unlike the pre-defined messages that users can quickly send to their friends when they receive a call on Android and iPhone, Truecaller’s flash messaging requires you to go to the app and send the message even when the person you want to send the message to isn’t calling you.
In the months to come, Truecaller said it expects to give users the ability to send custom messages.
The Truecaller app for Android is also getting a makeover, the company said. As for the iOS app, the company said it recently found a workaround to offer real-time caller ID for non-spam callers on iPhones. The feature however works in limited capacity.
The company said real-time ID for all callers isn’t something that Apple permits right now on iOS. However, if the caller also has Truecaller app installed on the phone (Android, iOS, or Windows Phone), then the recipient on iOS will see their info.