The social networking giant Facebook back in early-January updated its free Messenger app with the ability to share audio snippets, having added that feature to its official iOS client, also a free download, later that month. Initially only available to Canadian and North American users, today the company has expanded in-app voice calling to people in the United Kingdom in the form of a quiet backend update.
The handy feature should presumably become available to UK users through the company’s main iOS client at a later stage as well…
We’re also hearing reports that users in Argentina and elsewhere are seeing the feature live so it’s possible that today’s UK launch is part of a bigger initiative to roll out the Facebook voice calling rapidly to as many users around the world as humanly possible.
— Tomás Francisco (@Tomles) March 25, 2013
A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch that “from today, VOIP calling for Facebook Messenger on iOS will go live in the UK.”
Pocket-lint reports that voice calling has now launched for Facebook’s UK users.
The feature is pretty straightforward.
To call up a Facebook friend, launch the Messenger app, tap the person you’d like to call in the conversation view, then hit the “i” button to reveal options, including the new Free Call button.
If your friend is offline or lives in a country where Facebook hasn’t yet launched voice calling, you can record a short audio snippet, kinda like voicemail. To send someone voice recordings, just hit the “+” button above the keyboard.
Although apps like Viber and Skype (but, alas, not WhatsApp) support voice calling and have an established base of users, Facebook’s main strength is its 1+ billion user count, letting it roll out a new feature like voice calling without having to invest heavily in marketing.
Another big advantage of Facebook voice calling is that it’s an in-app capability. The fact that most of your friends already are on Facebook doesn’t hurt either.
Do let us know in the comments if you spot Facebook voice calling in the Messenger app available in other countries.