Facebook introduced a groundbreaking new feature today to its mobile messaging app. Launching first to Canadian users, the social network’s update to its messaging app will include a brand new voice messaging function that allows users to record and send messages Facebook friends.
Users in Canada that update their apps today will notice a record button next to the photo and camera button. To send voice messages, you’ll just need to press, hold to record, and release the button once you’ve completed your message to send it. WeChat users will already be familiar with this concept. To delete the message, you can slide your fingers to “push” it off screen.
Messaging is a space that’s heating up and becoming contentious among developers. For now the top recognizable messaging apps competing for the global market are Nimbuzz, WeChat, Whatsapp, LINE, and KakaoTalk, and Facebook wants to edge itself into this elite top crop of contenders. With 1.1 billion Facebook users, it has more than enough potential. Now it’s just a matter of building out new features.
The social network, in December, rid a requirement to sign up with a Facebook account to use its mobile messenger app. Instead Facebook opted for new users to sign up with a name and phone number to tear down a barrier it imposed on itself. After all no other messaging apps required users to login with Facebook, so why should Facebook? Shortly after, Facebook’s Poke app was released, guns blazing without a care for the obvious mimicry that it was of the popular Snapchat app. Snapchat loyalists voiced their alarm, and retaliated with one-star reviews of Facebook Poke. There were also a handful of rumors that Facebook would acquire popular messaging app Whatsapp, although they haven’t come to fruition.
The trend, clearly, is that Facebook is hell bent on launching its own features following mobile trends. The strategy is built on popularity rather than innovation.
Announced alongside voice messaging, Facebook is releasing a calling feature that will enable “free” calls that won’t tap into your minutes, but use your data instead. We’ll have a hands on with the new app in the near future, which should launched stateside soon as well.