In a latest development Facebook has quietly rolled out free voice-calling functionality for Android users in India. Facebook had introduced voice calling over wireless network and data connection in March last year and after a year the feature has been rolled out in India.
To access the new feature simply login into the Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app built before the $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp. Tap on the settings once you have selected who you would like to call. On doing so you will find “Free Call” in the drop down menu, if the “Free Call” option is grayed, it means the person cannot be called at the time.
The calling interface is basic with the contact’s cover image in the background and his/her profile image at the center. The call time is maintained on the upper left corner. On the lower side of the screen, one will find touch icons like speaker, mute and an option to leave the call interface and navigate to other parts of the UI even while the call is on.
The calling feature seems to be quite decent while I tested with a friend on Facebook. Though I am yet to rate the experience which Facebook is asking after every call.
The person calling will incur data charges on making the “Free Call” depending on the operator.
While the option might excite users if Facebook ties up with operators in the country to provide cheap calls but then why is Facebook making such a feature live when WhatsApp has already announced its intention to enter into voice calling services. Will Facebook keep Facebook Messenger alive in the near future?
We might not have answers for Facebook’s plans right now but the voice calling market is really getting attractive. Early in the day we reported LINE Corporation, the owners and operators of the free mobile messaging app LINE joining the bandwagon of voice calling services. With Line Call a user can call to mobile and landline numbers at cheap rates. The service is only available for Android users across eight markets. India is on the waiting list for now.
Viber that was bought last month by Rakuten has always been in the voice calling business. It recently stated that it isn’t worried about WhatsApp entering the voice call market as it has a superior technology.