Answering the Call – CallApp Interview with Alex Gitlin

Apr 14, 2018
Communication

Who is that calling you? Why can’t we ever escape telemarketers? CallApp has the answer, and we sat down with CallApp’s Alex Gitlin, Product Marketing Manager, to learn about the birth of a new kind of caller ID.

Appolicious: How did CallApp come into being?

Alex Gitlin: One day our Founder & CEO, Amit On, was in a very important meeting and his mobile phone rang. Sounds fairly normal right? Well the number was unknown, and Amit had to decide on the spot if it was important enough to answer. Amit answered the call, only to find out it was a spam call… That was the moment when Amit decided that it makes no sense not having information about the person calling you, when it’s already publicly available. Think about this scenario… Someone knocks on your door at home and puts their hand on the peep-hole. It might be a nice girl-scout selling cookies, but on the other part of the spectrum it could be a burglar. Would you open the door? Of Course not. So why is it the 21st century and we are not able to know who’s the caller behind each phone call? After this pivotal moment, Amit used smart data to create proprietary algorithms which are now the backbone of CallApp.

Appolicious: What challenges did your team face developing an app to enhance a feature, Caller ID, that so many take for granted?

AG: These aren’t the beginning days of Caller ID anymore, no longer can you just have a textual name based incoming call screen. This is what sets us apart from our industry contemporaries. We truly provide the best “Caller ID” space available on the market. We’re the whole package, providing a full-blown communication ID including identification for phone calls, text messages, WhatsApp messages, etc.

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It’s a known fact that people like personalization and that’s exactly what we give them. Our Caller ID gives you a fully personalized experience about the person calling: the name, mutual friends, photos. It’s different for each person and that’s what makes us stand out. Sure, the name will be the same, but the rest of the details are customized to the user.

Appolicious: CallApp is one of many apps now that’s in active development while available for users. How has this approach of early access influenced the app’s design?

AG: CallApp is ever changing and ever growing. It will always be in development no matter how big we get. Here at CallApp we’re always iterating based on User wishes and the outcome of these wishes. We don’t want just “ok” features, every feature is fully tested and made sure to be of highest quality. Anything less than perfect for our users is not ok for us. We never release a new feature just so we can put it on our roster. Our Users come first, being the reason why we will always be in development.

Appolicious: In what ways has this method altered your team’s approach from a traditional development process?

AG: Maybe the traditional development process is good for some apps, but when you truly want to be the best in your industry this simply just doesn’t cut it. There are apps out there who release updates every couple of months, this isn’t us. Our development cycles are much shorter, we’re releasing new versions multiple times a month. The majority of our company consists of a first-class development team. With this, we’re able to do everything in house and release more often.

Appolicious: How has active development and immediate community feedback guided CallApp‘s marketing?

AG: Just like with any company, regardless of the size, we need to be changing and adapting to fit our users’ needs. Everything we do here at CallApp can be measured, we don’t rely on ideas that we think “are good ideas”. We are constantly A/B testing, which helps us improve in every aspect. With A/B testing, we know exactly what our users want and when they want it.

Appolicious: What’s informed your team’s approach to shielding users from telemarketers?

AG: We are not a team of just average developers. The leads of our Research and Development team have all had lead roles in their country’s Special Intelligence Technology Units. We didn’t just take an open source Caller ID & Call Blocking code someone already created. Instead we took smart data to create proprietary algorithms which are now the backbone of CallApp. We don’t stop there… what makes our application so great is that our users are actively helping in blocking calls and tagging spammers. One reason people download our app is to get rid of telemarketers, therefore it’s known our users want to be shielded. With this being said, they take an active part in our service by flagging telemarketers, so others can gain the benefit of not getting hit with spam calls.

Appolicious: How did your team find was the best way to monetize a free app like CallApp?

AG: It’s very tough to monetize free apps in today’s world. We think we are one of the few apps that were actually able to crack this. We are always reiterating our business model in order to maximize monetization without hurting the User Experience. We’re always trying different models. If the channels work [then] we keep them, if not we move onto the next one.

Appolicious: CallApp is currently an Android exclusive. What drew you to Google’s platform, and is there a chance iOS users may reap the benefits of CallApp later down the line?

AG: As we said before, our Users come first. Now why would we want to provide them with “ok” apps on two different operating systems? Instead we want to deliver the best product possible, so for right now we’re focusing on Android. Android currently has almost 90% market share, so we thought this was the better operating system to start on. Of course, in the future we plan to be on iOS as well.

Appolicious: Recording conversations is a useful tool, but can also be a privacy/legal concern. How has your team addressed the gnarlier aspects on that front?

AG: As the first ever app to have Caller ID and Call Recording in the same app, we had to do a lot of research on this subject. In the finished product, the user is obligated to accept and agree prior to enabling the call recording feature inside the app. CallApp doesn’t store the recordings on the CallApp server either, it’s only stored on the user’s device, the user has full control to save and delete the files.

Appolicious: What’s the most important thing you’d say the team has learned over the course of CallApp‘s development?

AG: The most important thing we have learned is good ideas don’t necessarily equal successful ideas. Everything we do here is tracked thanks to advanced analytics programs. This has helped us realize that not every idea we have will perform well. When the idea isn’t performing, we accept this and try to figure out how to improve it. When the idea is performing, we don’t just let it sit idle, we develop ways to make it even stronger. We don’t have nearly 40 Million Users just by a fluke, everything we do here is deeply planned and carefully implemented.

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Elijah Beahm

Elijah is a man who can't stop talking about games, geeky things, and to the chagrin of his colleagues, horrible puns. He's been working as a game journalist for several years now, and in addition to Appolicious, His other work can be found at GameCritics.com, I Need Diverse Games, and The Unabridged Gamer on YouTube. When not reviewing games, you'll probably find him ranting on Twitter, writing, or replaying Dead Space 2 for the zillionth time.

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