Facebook expands Messenger voice calling to U.S. iPhone users

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Two weeks after Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) added free VoIP calling to the Canadian version of its Messenger application for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, the social networking giant is now extending the feature to iPhone users in the U.S.

The updated Facebook Messenger for iOS 2.1 enables American users to call other iPhone users for free via Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. To initiate a call, users open a conversation with their Facebook friend, tap the "i" button in the top-right corner and click Free Call, The Verge notes. Call recipients will receive a push notification indicating someone is attempting to reach them.

Earlier this month, Facebook introduced voice messaging capabilities to Messenger for iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. The app now includes a "Record" button next to the "Attach a Photo" and "Camera" options, enabling users to share push-to-talk messages up to one minute in length. Recordings appear in the Messenger conversation stream as a waveform icon, and recipients can listen to messages directly within Messenger or via Facebook's mobile Web interface. Potential use case scenarios for the new feature include hands-free messaging options or more complex messages that are too long and detailed to type as conventional texts.

Facebook launched Messenger in mid-2011 in an effort to steer users away from conventional operator SMS solutions, and the addition of voice options promises to further escalate the threat posed to carrier services. Facebook is also taking steps to expand Messenger services beyond its core platform: Last month, the company updated Messenger for Android to support mobile device owners without existing Facebook accounts, signaling the first time the company has made its services available outside its userbase.

Facebook now touts more than 1 billion users worldwide, with roughly 600 million accessing its platform via mobile.

For more:
- read this Verge article

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