Facebook Messenger Adds Calling Option

Even after acquiring WhatsApp, Facebook is still working on its own messaging service, Facebook Messenger, for which it released an update on Thursday.

Yesterday's update added a major feature to the messaging app: free voice calls. This feature is similar to voice calling features build in to messaging apps like Viber and WeChat. Users can now make phone calls to friends, free of charge, so long as both participants have at least a Wi-Fi connection. After the update, users will see a phone icon next to their friends' names within Messenger. Users can simply tap the phone icon to call friends though the call may not be completely free if the recipient does not currently have a Wi-Fi connection. Without Wi-Fi, users and recipients face normal data charges. The update also includes creation and message forwarding features for Android that rolled out for iOS last week as well as conversation shortcuts for the home screen. This update is available for iOS and Android devices but has not rolled out for Windows Phone at this time.

The calling feature is also expected to make an appearance in recently acquired WhatsApp. Leaked screenshots of the calling feature on WhatsApp for iOS are nearly identical to the new feature on Facebook Messenger and the iOS 7 in-call screen. The Android version does look a little different. The WhatsApp VoIP calling is still to come and is expected to be distinctly different from its Facebook counterpart. WhatsApp was reportedly developing voice calls before its acquisition by Facebook and is expected to launch the update with the feature in the coming weeks.

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