Facebook is bringing voice and video calling to its flagship social networking service, the latest attempt to fine-tune its communications features after spinning off Messenger as a separate app in 2014.
Some users, including those in the U.S., are as of yesterday able to place voice or video calls from the Facebook app. 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, says Connor Hayes, director of product management at Messenger.
Facebook also started testing a limited version of Messenger’s inbox in the core Facebook app last fall. Messenger was once built into Facebook’s app, but the company spun it out seven years ago, forcing users to download a separate app in order send private messages from a mobile phone.
The new 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 says. 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 says. He describes Messenger as the “connective tissue for people to be together when apart, regardless of which service they’re choosing to use.”