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Facebook launches free voice calling in the US

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Facebook has launched a 'free' voice calling service for iPhone users in the US, following a successful trial of the Voice Over IP (VoIP) initiative in Canada in January.

A free call button now shows up in the Messenger on iOS app for US users, without them needing to update the app in iTunes.

Facebook Messenger application that does not require a Facebook account

© Facebook



To make a call to another Messenger for iPhone user, users of the app need to open a conversation with that person and then tap "i' in the top right hand corner, before selecting Free Call.

When users call someone a push notification appears on their screen saying they have a call incoming.

Essentially, any Facebook user in America with an iPhone can now call another Facebook user for free over WiFI or mobile data while on the go.

The call itself is free, but users could still incur data usage fees from their carrier if they use it over 3G/4G.

The feature could be particularly useful to people with poor mobile signal at work or at home, or those users who want to save on their mobile minutes allowance.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about Facebook Graph Search at a Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.

© PA Images / Jeff Chiu/AP



But this is also part of Facebook's efforts to increase usage of its Messenger service, after recently making the app available to non-Facebook users.

Due to its 1 billion-strong user base, Facebook has the ability to become the biggest VoIP and communications community in the world if it rolls out the voice calling feature to more countries and mobile platforms, such as Android.

This would provide a serious challenger to Skype, despite Facebook agreeing a partnership with the Microsoft-owned net calling service in summer 2011.

Facebook did not give an indication whether voice calling over Messenger would launch in the UK in future, but it did recently add the ability to include short voice messages in conversations on the app.

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