Facebook has added voice calling feature in its Messenger app for Android app users in India. The feature was first spotted by AndroidOS.in. The voice calling feature was launched a year back in the USA and supported both iOS and Android devices.
To use the service, you need to select the friend you want to call and then press the vertical ellipsis button a.k.a the options button. If your friend is also using the Messenger app on an Android device, you’ll be able to make the call. However, when we tried it out the option was grayed out for a few users despite them being online and using Android devices. It’s not clear why this was the case.
Facebook had recently acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion and the latter had said that it will add voice calling feature soon. A few rumoured screenshots showing WhatsApp’s upcoming calling feature were leaked earlier today.
Voice calling itself is not a new feature in messaging apps as Viber, Microsoft’s Skype and Google’s Hangouts already offer this feature. Also, Facebook’s decision to roll out voice calling increases the feature overlap with WhatsApp. However, this shouldn’t be a problem since both the services have completely different target user base. While Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular apps in US, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in several parts of Europe and India.
The only people threatened by this service would be the service providers as they would lose out on voice revenues too if such services become popular. In the words of WhatsApp Business head Neeraj Arora: “If you go back two and half years, when we started doing carrier deals, and this question was asked in every meeting: You want to work with us, we want to work with you, but it cannibalizes SMS. And now I don’t even get that question anymore. I’m predicting that the same thing will happen with voice. We’ll launch voice, and hopefully users will like it…I hope they like it. And, if they end up using our voice product, it drives data, and it will be the same curve again. First carriers will say…”