Facebook has begun testing its its new Voice over IP (VoIP) service, which will allow users to make phone calls on the Facebook Messenger smartphone app. The system will be tested initially by Facebook users in Canada, and depending on the response to the new feature, the company will make changes and tweak the service before releasing it to the wider (worldwide, to be exact) Facebook community.
Facebook’s inclusion of a VoIP feature comes as part of a series of upgrades the site is making to its social media network, which has become nearly all that can be expected from Facebook nowadays: that it will keep on changing.
The feature will reportedly allow Facebook users to send one another voice clips through the Messenger app, which will work with both the iOS and Android versions. The trial version for Canadian users will only initially be offered on iOS devices however, which include the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
As of now, it is unclear whether VoIP capabilities will be made available through the PC version of the site.
The way the mobile Messenger app’s VoIP feature works is by pressing a small “i” button, located at the top right corner of the screen. Users then tap “free call” to send a voice message—not a live call—to their Facebook friend. The voice clip is created by holding down the “record” button located on the app for the length the user wants their message to be. The message is then sent privately from the one user to the other, rather than publicly from wall to wall.
It is also currently unclear when the service will be released to other markets outside of Canada, but the testing phase will reportedly end in the next few weeks.
By adding VoIP messaging capabilities to the mobile Facebook Messenger app, Facebook seems to be taking a page from other social media and tech company’s books such as Apple, whose FaceTime application allows for video calling as well as Microsoft’s video-calling service, Skype.
Whether the addition will be successful or fall the way of unpopular Facebook features (poking, anyone?) remains to be seen.
Edited by Jamie Epstein