Facebook released their VoIP voice calling feature to US users of Home and its Android Messenger app. This could lead to using your phone app a lot less, as well as giving Facebook more data about which contacts you care about. All iOS and Android users in the US can Facedial their friends.
VoIP was originally available in 23 other countries, but today the U.S. joins the list, which makes it 24. Facebook has informed users that the rollout will happen over the course of the day, without any formal app updates.
A Facebook Voice call can be started in messenger, by clicking the “I” icon on a profile and tapping “free call”. In Home, you can start a call from a chat head by clicking the three dots beside a person’s name, opening the conversation in Messenger, and following the steps above.
Facebook began testing is open sourced version of VoIP with iOS users in Canada and the US in January, and has been progressively rolling it out to more countries and Android since. Today is the culmination of that rollout (not including less critical developing markets).
Using Facebook’s VoIP services means there will be less concern about what devices friends are using.
Getting in VoIP in place will be important if Facebook wants to win the war of messaging – against Google and Apple, of course. Google is planning to launch a message system combining their services of GChat, Google+, Messenger, Google Voice, and potentially Gmail, to let you carry on with text and voice conversations across different devices. Apple already has its own phone app on the iPhone and its iMessage apps on several platforms.
Big companies are beginning to realize that smartphones are increasing their amount of computing power, while still being communication devices that take up a ton of our time. Controlling messaging means that company will own our time, which results in more reach and frequency through advertising. Offering more messaging services allows for these companies to know who we’re talking to, which can improve targeted social advertising.