After Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $16 billion, some wondered what would happen to the company’s existing messaging app. Now it seems they had nothing to worry about. The company updated the app Thursday with a major new feature — one that allows users to make free voice calls to their Facebook friends.
The new feature is similar to voice calling built in to other messaging apps such as Viber and WeChat. Users can make phone calls to friends for free, provided they have at least a wifi connection.
Now, when you view Facebook contacts from within Messenger, a phone icon appears next to their name. Tap the icon to start a phone call. Both participants need to have a wifi or data connection to make or receive calls.
The update comes weeks after photos that showed voice calling on WhatsApp— a feature rumored to be in the works for some time— leaked online.
Interestingly, the design of the in-call screens in Messenger, and the rumored screen in WhatsApp, are nearly identical to the in-call screen of iOS 7 itself. (The Android version of Messenger looks slightly different.)
The latest version of Facebook Messenger is available to iOS and Android users. The Windows Phone version has not yet been updated with the feature.