In an attempt to keep up with the booming development of text and voice messages, Facebook has released a significant update to its Messenger app, adding two new important features: free VoIP calls (currently Canada only) and the ability to send short voice messages when text just isn’t enough. The update is available for both iOS and Android.
Up until now, you could use Facebook Messenger to send text messages, emoticons and photos. With the new update, the app gains push-to-talk capabilities, and by using the new “Record Voice” button in the message compose screen, you can record short messages that are immediately sent to your friends. All you have to do is keep pressing the record button while you talk, and let go when you’re done. The app will do the rest.
But voice messaging, exciting as it is, is not groundbreaking. If you live in Canada, you’ll notice that aside from this new feature, you can see a small ”i” icon on the top right. This is Facebook’s new voice calling feature, which you can use for free over Wi-Fi, or from anywhere using your existing data plan. Want to call a friend for free? Open a conversation, click the ”i” button and select “Free Call”.
While only available for Canadians at this time, Facebook will probably spread VoIP calling to the rest of the world if it works well. VoIP is not a new feature generally, as many people probably already have Skype or Viber installed, but the ability to connect with your Facebook friends – and with a billion active users, most of our friends are on Facebook – can be huge. It remains to be seen how this new move will affect the growing Facebook-Skype integration we’ve been seeing in the past year.
Will you use Facebook’s calling features when they become available? Or will you stay with Skype or other existing options? Why?