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Facebook Messenger app adds calling, following WhatsApp’s lead

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is rolling out the Calls tab to the Facebook Messenger app on Android and iOS. The move takes a page out of WhatsApp‘s playbook, making audio and video calls with friends and family a lot easier for Messenger users.

Not every Messenger user will see the Calls tab in the app immediately. But the lucky users who do will find it located between the Chats and People tabs on the lower bar on the app’s screen.

Facebook Messenger app with calling
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Meta said that the decision to add calling on the Messenger app’s home screen is due to the rapid rise in audio and video calls that are done through the chat window of another user. It found that there are 40% more daily callers now compared to early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to work from home and conduct meetings via video and audio. Messenger users worldwide conduct more than 300 million audio and video calls on a daily basis.

Messenger’s Calls tab is the latest in a line of other products created by Meta’s Remote Presence team, including Watch Together and AR Effects, that are meant to foster deeper connections between people and their communities. It’s becoming more like WhatsApp in that users will be able to call their friends and family with a single push of a button instead of going into their chat to initiate calls from the top -right corner of the screen.

WhatsApp was born out of a need for some users to call friends and relatives in other countries without the hassle of long-distance charges that would be levied by their mobile service providers if such calls were conducted on the regular Phone app — under the condition that they pay a small annual fee for the privilege. Since Meta bought WhatsApp in 2014, there was no longer a need for users to pay an annual fee, which meant they could call anyone in the world at no extra cost.

Facebook may be declining in popularity, but some people continue to use the platform and, in turn, use the Messenger app. With the Call tab making audio and video calls quickly accessible, it will be interesting to see the increased competition between Messenger and WhatsApp.

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Cristina Alexander
Cristina Alexander has been writing since 2014, from opining about pop culture on her personal blog in college to reporting…
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