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BizReport : Social Marketing : January 17, 2013

The Facebook phone is here and it's already in your pocket

As the Internet fizzes with news of Facebook's Graph Search, the social network has slipped in another new feature which, while hotly anticipated for some time, hasn't materialized in quite the format expected.

by Helen Leggatt

Facebook quietly rolled out a new mobile feature today. It's not a new phone, but it's close.

Facebook confirmed it is rolling out Messenger for iPhone in the U.S. A 'Free Call' button on a user's profile enables their Friends to make free calls using either data connections or Wi-Fi. Users do not have to do anything to install the feature as it will update automatically.

Calls can't be made via the feature to landlines or cellphones, and is only available for iPhone users in the U.S. at present. No announcement has yet been made as to whether other operating systems or countries will be added any time soon.

"Facebook has essentially built a stealth operating system for the iPhone and Android smartphones," writes the Wall Street Journal's Matthew Lynley.

According to The Verge, who have had a chance to test the free calling feature, "the call quality sounds very good, and is certainly on par with competitors Viber, Vonage, and Skype".

So, no more fretting about if and when Facebook will launch its own phone. It's already in your pocket.

Tags: app, Facebook, mobile, social network

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