Facebook Debuts Free Calling Feature for U.S. Users

Facebook is making it easier for users to communicate via voice through its Messenger app.  First, Canadian users got a taste of VOIP over Facebook, and now U.S.-based iPhone users can enjoy the same feature along with their Canadian counterparts.

The updated Facebook Messenger app is available in the App Store.

To use the feature, one simply chooses a contact and then clicks on the “i” icon at the top right-hand side, which is shown in the image to the left.

Once the information screen for the friend in question is up, there will be a “Free Call” button under the friend’s avatar.

The button will be lit up, offering the ability to “call” the chosen friend, should the following conditions be met:

  • The person has made his or her mobile number available on Facebook.
  • The other person is marked as available.
  • The other person likewise has an iPhone, and has the updated app installed.

Calls may be placed using either Wi-Fi or data, but of course if the latter is being used, one would do well to bear in mind the limitations of his or her data plan.

One may question the usefulness of this feature in an era of unlimited calling.  The feature could prove itself handy in a situation where cell service is spotty, but a Wi-Fi signal is available.  The VOIP feature could also come in handy should a user not have unlimited minutes.

Furthermore, one may wish to speak with someone via voice, but may not wish to call using his or her conventional cell phone number, as doing so would obviously share a private mobile number. This new feature obviously eliminates that concern.

Not only that, but the service is free of charge. Who doesn’t like things that are bereft of fees?

This week, the Internet was abuzz with rumors of a Facebook Phone. This may not be quite what they had in mind, but VOIP calling through Facebook certainly serves much the same purpose.

[via: Washington Post]