Facebook is bringing voice and video calls to its flagship social networking service. The service started rolling out to selected users as a test from 23 August.
Some users, including those in the U.S., will be able to place voice or video calls from the Facebook app beginning Monday. The new feature is just a test, but it’s meant to reduce the need to jump back and forth between Facebook’s main app and its Messenger service, said Connor Hayes, director of product management at Messenger.
Monday’s test is the latest in what has been a slow but consistent effort internally to integrate all of Facebook’s apps and services. Facebook is starting to think of Messenger as a service rather than just a stand-alone app, Hayes said.
That means people will use the technology alongside other things — say, relying on Messenger to video chat while watching videos or playing games on Facebook. Voice and video calls that use Messenger technology are available on other Facebook platforms, including Instagram, Oculus and Portal devices.
“You’re going to start to see quite a bit more of this over time,” Hayes said. He describes Messenger as the “connective tissue for people to be together when apart, regardless of which service they’re choosing to use.”
Facebook has also been testing adding a limited version of the Messenger inbox to the main Facebook app, further expanding what can be done without having to switch to Messenger.
Facebook combined messaging between Instagram and Messenger last year, a feature that the company also plans to bring to WhatsApp. Deep integrations could make it harder for the Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp apps to be split should Facebook lose the antitrust lawsuit it is facing. The United States FTC has accused Facebook of a social networking monopoly and has called for the company to divest Instagram and WhatsApp to bolster competition.