Facebook to add free calling for iPhone users of its Messenger app in the US

17 Jan 2013

US users of the Facebook Messenger app on iPhone will now have the ability to make free calls, according to reports.

According to The Verge, Facebook has confirmed that the feature has started rolling out to US iPhone users today in the current version of the Messenger app, without requiring an update through the App Store.

The move follows Facebook’s testing of the feature for all Messenger for iPhone users in Canada earlier in January. Since then a free calling button has been introduced to the app.

To open up a free call to another Messenger for iPhone user in the US, people must first locate the person they wish to chat to, tap the ‘i’ button in the top right corner and then press ‘Free Call’. The recipient will then get a pop-up notification to say who is calling.

The Verge said that for US users the call will be placed over Wi-Fi or using their phone’s data connection while one is on the move.

Currently the ability to carry out these free calls is only open to US and Canadian iPhone users of the Facebook Messenger app.

So what will be the implications of this new service and can Facebook pull it off on a global scale? As The Verge pointed out, this single feature could make Facebook “one of the largest communities of VoIP users in the world”.

And what will be the implications for Facebook’s partnership with Skype? Back in June 2011 Facebook introduced a new video chat service for its users, powered by Skype, as well as a new group chat function.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic