With an update to the Facebook Messenger app for iOS, the company has now allowed users to make free voice calls to anyone who has enabled their device!
The feature does currently only come to a certain group of users. Those using the Messenger app for the iPhone in the U.S. are able to make free VoIP (Voice over IP) calls using their existing cellular data connection or WiFi connection. It’s not the Facebook phone that’s been rumored in recent months, but it’s a start.
Interestingly, AT&T also extended its FaceTime video coverage over cellular to many more users today, however unlimited data users are still excluded.
If you already have the Facebook Messenger app on your iPhone, you don’t even need to update the app. The feature was rolled out today with a new “Free Call” button as seen below:
To make your “free call” go to your Messenger app on your iPhone, open a chat, tap the “i” icon in the top right corner, and tap “Free Call.” The only way you can connect the call is if the person you are calling has the Messenger app (not the Facebook app) installed on their iPhone as well.
Tonight, I tested the new feature over WiFi with a friend, former Hypable writer Pat McCoy, and found it to be very easy to use. The quality of the voice call is actually much higher and clearer than a traditional phone called placed over a cellular network.
It should be noted that you cannot dial a phone number from this setting; you can only place calls to other Facebook Messenger app users.
Is this the first step in an evolution of phone calls? With FaceTime, Skype and now the Facebook Messenger app reaching a potential user base of over 1 billion, we can’t help but wonder how this new feature will influence the way people communicate and use their mobile devices.
Do you have the Facebook Messenger app on your iPhone? Have you tested it out? Let us know how it worked for you. Do you think you’ll be using the Facebook app as your primary service for phone calls?
Thanks to Pat McCoy for the pictures and testing.