In an age where voice mail messages seem archaic and annoying, Facebook is adding the feature to its messaging platform. Using the newly revamped messenger app, users can now record and send up to 1 minute voice messages to other users. Popular third party messaging services like WhatsApp already offer this feature.
This simple addition is another step in Facebook’s plan to have all user communication go through their network. Facebook quickly rolled out the ‘Poke’ app following the extreme popularity of the Snapchat app. They also recently allowed any customer with a phone number to use the messenger app without having a Facebook account.
The voice SMS is not a new concept for mobile users. I recall the Samsung A900 “Blade” having the feature back in 2006. That phone was an attempt by Samsung to cut into the RAZR market share with a similar product that had a few advanced features. Needless to say, the voice SMS was never a highly used feature and the Blade did not compete with the record setting RAZR.
We will soon see if Facebook’s new spin on communication will take off. Apps for Apple and Android devices should be getting the update that will allow voice messaging. The standard desktop browser version will be bypassing the audio option and it appears to be a mobile only feature. Voice messaging will be enabled by touching the red record button below an existing conversation. The audio clips will be embedded into the standard bubble conversation view.
Another feature that is being tested with the Facebook app is VoIP calling. As of now it’s only available in Canada for iOS users, but if all goes well we could see that trickle down into the US on more platforms. Most of the new testing by Facebook is done by location and OS based selections. The concept is to use data for your calls and not voice minutes through the traditional cell network.
Users will be able to make these minute free calls to other Facebook users through the app. VoIP is free to use, but it will consume data and as with most plans the data caps could limit usage by some heavy end users. It is not currently known how much bandwidth a standard voice call will use, but if you are on a WiFi network, it should not matter unless your broadband ISP also has a cap.
Facebook has said they will take on the mobile market with force and the recent app feature updates reflect that. Whether or not people use and see value in Poke or the voice messaging is a different story.
Facebook Voice Chat
This video is a tutorial on installing the Vivox Voice, voice chat application, on Facebook using Internet Explorer as your browser. It explains how to install the application, enter your personal channel, and invite friends to talk.