Facebook Adds Voice Calling to Messenger App
Facebook this week quietly added a calling feature to its Messenger app for iPhones. Now, going to a friend's contact info within the Messenger app reveals a Free Call button. That allows users to make a VOIP, or Internet-based, call over Wi-Fi or their data connection. Facebook faces competition from other apps, including Skype, Google Voice and Gmail chat. But c/net speculates that the purpose isn't so much to compete with these services as to offer more services to teenagers. While young people mainly use chat, Facebook is betting that they will want to make calls from time to time.
The world's most popular social network is finding new ways to, well, be social. Facebook quietly added a new feature to its messenger app on Wednesday. It allows US iPhone users to make free voice calls to others using the app.
The company had reportedly started tested the technology that works over Wi-Fi or via your data plan earlier this week in Canada.
The Verge, which first reported the story said that it could be critical for those with bad cell service or who are merely keeping a watchful eye on their minutes. But it could be a bigger deal for Facebook. They explain that he new feature automatically makes the company one of the largest communities of VOIP users in the world. For the uninitiated that stands or voice over Internet protocol, or making phone calls via the Internet.
But Forbes is quick to point out the are already other apps offering the same functionality, including Skype, Google Voice and Gmail chat.
C/net however argues that while the new feature could make Facebook more competitive with both those services and phone carriers, that was not its intent. Instead the service is aiming at its target market, teenagers. C/net writes, "With free calling Facebook has built itself a large enough straw to drink out of the fountain of youth…Even if texting is their first love, they probably still want to make actual phone calls on occasion."
The feature does not require an App Store update and is fairly straightforward to use. Once inside a contact's info within the messenger app, just tap the Free Call button.