Facebook lets Canadians beta test VoIP calling over iOS Messenger app

Daniel Bader

January 3, 2013 4:05pm

Facebook has released a new version of its Messenger app for Android and iPhone that allows users to record a short voice memo and send it quickly and easily over its network. These bursts can be played via the browser or the mobile app, and come through very clearly on both the iPhone 5 and Nexus 4.

But Facebook didn’t stop there: Canadian iPhone users get to play with a new feature that is sure to make companies like Skype, Viber, Text Plus, Vonage and Fongo quiver in their proverbial boots. By pressing the “i” button in the top right corner of any chat, users can initiate a VoIP call (with other iPhone users running the latest version, of course). Incoming calls come through as push notifications when outside the app and, when inside, show up as a fully-fledged alternative to a network call.

I tested the functionality with new MobileSyrup writer, Matt Demers (if you haven’t already welcomed him, please do so), and barring the occasional digitized stutter the quality was top-notch — perhaps better than a regular call due to the high-quality wideband codec used to transmit voice.

Like calls from Skype, you can retreat to the homescreen and even launch other apps while on the call; Facebook clearly implemented this using Apple’s standard VoIP APIs. You can continue to converse over text while on voice chatting, too, and missed call notifications appear in your notification centre as well as any browser-based dialogue boxes you currently have open. In other words, you’ll find out soon enough if you’ve missed the call.

The VoIP feature is only available to iPhone users for the time being, and will be rolled out to other countries in the coming weeks. As with many other companies, Facebook sees Canada, with its small, tech-focused population as a perfect testing ground for larger feature rollouts. We’re certainly not complaining.

Download Facebook Messenger for Android and iPhone.
Via: TNW

  • Brad F, Brad F(anboy), jack

    Uh no.. hipsters will be seen doing this all over downtown.

    • Brad F(anboy)

      Are you kidding? They were doing it before it was cool.

  • LW81

    your move, Google.

    • tom

      Google’s had this for a while: their VoIP product is integrated into their social network. But Google’s goes much further – you can call regular phone numbers for free, do video conferencing with individuals or groups. The only thing they don’t offer in Canada is the ability to assign Canadian numbers to your account for receiving calls.

  • jellmoo

    Welcome aboard Matt. Hope to see some awesome stuff from you.

    An interesting move from Facebook to say the least. Considering the wide user base, this might actually pose a legitimate threat to Skype.

  • Nothin But RIM

    Just gave me another reason to not care whether Skype is on BB10 at launch.

    • gogakhan

      Even if Skype ain’t, we need to make sure Facebook knows enough BB10 to flesh out a native app with all these features built-in, not just empty promises for a year or two.

  • FallenSoul

    Since many plans allow for unlimited social network usage (eg; facebook and twitter) this could pose a hugh problem for service providers. <— their problem, not mine!!!

    • sp

      damn those hugh problems!!!!

  • bilzkh

    I thought Facebook and Skype entered into some sort of a partnership some years ago…could this be the result?

  • Tyco

    Android makes my bum hurt 🙁

  • speedbump

    Yeah, and do voice analysis of every word/sentence you utter.

    No thanks!
    And FWIW my FB accound has been killed long time a go!