Facebook may have begun as a mere social network, or a photo sharing website in its days of utmost infancy, but it has come a long way since. While the primary function was, and remains, connecting people (and I don’t intend to bag Nokia’s tagline here – they have their own story), the mediums of connection have evolved a lot over the past few years.
Today, Facebook stands as a platform for not only individuals to converse and share with their friends and family, but also for businesses to promote their merchandize, for software vendors to announce their products, for brands to get recognition, and so on and so forth. Then, groups have also become an integral component of the social networking giant. Facebook has evolved into a multi-headed hydra, and more heads keep on sprouting every day. The newly-introduced Graph Search is just another testament to that.
Earlier this month, Facebook started testing voice calling through its Messenger app for iOS users – free VoIP calls over Wi-Fi or cellular data that wouldn’t cost you carrier minutes – and claimed that if the testing went successful, the feature will be released to the user base in United States as well. The testing phase seems to have gone well, for those with iOS variant of the Facebook Messenger app have started seeing Free Call option available whilst being based in the US. Interestingly, there is no update to the app in the iTunes App Store; you just tap the small ‘i’ in the top right corner of a conversation, and the option to make the call will become available in the next screen, next to View Timeline. Tapping that will initiate the call using your Wi-Fi internet connection or cellular data, while the receiving party will get a push notification on their end, assuming that they have Facebook Messenger installed.
Facebook entered a partnership with Skype back in the middle of last year, using which they’ve been allowing users of the web application to make video calls to other Facebookers through the web-based interface. Whilst that feature still remains missing from the mobile clients of Messenger, the voice calling option indicates that the Palo Alto company does not plan to rule that out for long. As of now, most of the devices that are capable of running Messenger have front-facing cameras, so it makes sense that Facebook might want to venture down that road.
It’s also noteworthy that whilst iOS users have already received the capability to make free voice calls, the Android clients trails behind in that. It has been told that testing is on-going on that front, so you may expect an update to hit the Play Store some time soon. In my opinion, it’s a fair trade, because even as of now, you get complete SMS management on Android – something that iOS users can only dream of, owing to Apple’s policies in that regard. It’ll be interesting to see how both these clients develop going forward in their own rights.