January 17, 2013
Facebook Adds A Little Voice To Messenger For iOS
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It wasn´t all that long ago that Facebook decided they´d begin testing a feature in their Messenger for iOS app which allowed users to place free calls to one another. Now, less than 2 weeks later, Facebook has said they´ve begun rolling out the feature to all US users.Speaking to The Verge, Facebook has said their tests of the VoIP service in Canada went well and now, US users can begin making calls to one another via the app, no update necessary.
These calls are placed through your iPhone´s data or Wi-Fi connection, meaning talkative users can save on minutes or those with spotty cell coverage can use an available nearby Wi-Fi connection to place a call.
Earlier this month, Facebook added some functionality to their Messenger for iOS app, giving users the ability to send recorded voice messages in line with their run-of-the-mill text-based conversation. At the time, only our neighbors to the North were able to use the VoIP functionality, though the social giant had mentioned that they planned to extend this service to the US in the future.
This new feature in Messenger for iOS isn´t much different from other, similar services, such as Skype, Viber or Vonage. It carries with it the same benefits of the average VoIP, including the aforementioned reliance on data instead of voice and extended coverage, thanks to Wi-Fi. To use the service, one only needs to simply open the app, start a conversation with another Messenger for iOS user, tap the “i” icon next to their name, then tap “Free Call.”
Therein lies the main caveat: This new feature is only available (for now) to iOS users, and while there are plenty of these Facebookers roaming the US, it limits who you can connect with via VoIP. While Facebook has an enormous user base, it also seems unlikely that those inclined to use VoIP are looking for other solutions. Then again, those iPhone-using Facebookers looking to use VoIP as a means of communication may enjoy the ease which comes from integrating this service into one they currently use.
The addition of voice features into Facebook´s services is an interesting one. Over the past couple of years, Facebook has been bringing in existing functionalities under their umbrella of features. Messenger in particular performs the same task as email and text messages at the same time. Messenger for iOS users could just as easily email or text their friends, but Facebook has instead offered to act as the bridge between the two. Additionally, their Camera app – at the time – offered much the same functionality as existing services, like Instagram, Flicker or even text. These days, iPhone users can even post pictures straight from their Camera Roll to their Facebook profile. Yet, the social giant once more offered to facilitate this sharing.
With each passing day and with each new product release, Facebook is making it clear that they want to have a hand in every form of communication and connection. While the same could be said of other sharing services, like Skype or Flicker, Facebook also has a knack for lousing up their privacy policies. With a track record like theirs, it should make one suspicious about their intentions.
Facebook Messenger for iOS is available now and US users can begin placing voice calls to one another now without any update.