In their most recent update to the Facebook Messenger application for iOS, Facebook has introduced a free calling feature via wi-fi or data connections for US users.
It's All About Change
The social network has gone through a few changes and updates over the last year. In April it was announced they had bought photo sharing service, Instagram, while in August Facebook unveiled a new targeted marketing tool for advertisers. Towards the end of 2012 they began updating the functionality of the site by testing a new thread comment feature and introducing a new job search app.
As for 2013, Facebook is off to a good start. Earlier this week they announced Social Graph search feature which is designed to improve social relevance by adding more context to the basic search function. Now with the voice calling feature that's included with Facebook Messenger for iOS, it appears the company wants to make sure the network and its applications are as social as possible in making the application more like Skype, which offers users local and toll-free voice calling as well as video and text chats.
The Online Telephone
The service will be rolled out over the next few weeks according to the app page, but has started appearing when some iPhone users updated their app. This new feature is a step-up from Skype's free local calling as the communication tool doesn't have free long distance calling. With Facebook Messenger, iPhone users can call anyone they wish, provided they are in the United States and also own an iPhone.
To use the free calling feature users should make sure they either have their wi-fi connected or data turned on, as well as having the most up to date version of the app. Then, they select a person they’d like to talk to and click the “i” and click on the Free Call button that appears on the information page. The call will appear to the recipient, if they have the most updated version of messenger, as “"Name of contact’ is calling.”
The free calling feature will prove to be useful to those who spend a lot of time working on their mobile device, who want to conserve battery power and need to reach colleagues, friends and family via a telephone number who are located in a different part of the country. As well, it also will be beneficial as those who don't want to pay the fees that Skype offers users who need a long-distance plan.
Whether the calling feature will be circulated to other countries or made available for Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry users remains to be seen.