Facebook adds voice messaging to Messenger for iOS, Android
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is adding voice messaging features to its standalone Messenger applications for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, with VoIP calling features also on tap.
Facebook Messenger now includes a 'Record' button next to the 'Attach a Photo' and 'Camera' options, enabling users to share push-to-talk messages up to one minute in length. Recordings appear in the Messenger conversation stream as a waveform icon, and recipients can listen to messages directly within Messenger or via Facebook's mobile Web interface. Potential use case scenarios for the new feature include hands-free messaging options or more complex messages that are too long and detailed to type as conventional texts. Facebook tells TechCrunch it will limit voice messaging to the mobile platform, with no plans to expand the feature to the desktop.
Facebook also is testing free voice calls within Messenger: The trials, initially limited to iOS users in Canada, will enable consumers to speak to their contacts via Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. For now, Canadian users cannot call Android device owners within their home market or speak to contacts outside of Canadian borders, although the Facebook Messenger page in the U.S. outpost of Apple's App Store states the voice calling feature "will be rolling out over the next few weeks."
Facebook launched Messenger in mid-2011 in an effort to steer users away from conventional operator SMS solutions--the addition of voice options could further escalate the threat posed to carrier services. Last month, the company expanded Messenger for Android to support mobile device owners without existing Facebook accounts, signaling the first time the social networking giant has made its services available outside its userbase.
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