Facebook test brings voice and video calls back to its main app

Testers will be able to call friends without having to access Messenger.

Andrei Stanescu via Getty Images

Facebook has started testing a feature that gives users a way to place voice and video calls from within the main app itself, according to Bloomberg. Like with any of the social network's experiments, it will only be available to a limited number of accounts. But those who do get access to the test will be able to call friends on the platform without having to fire up the Messenger app.

As the publication notes, this looks like a move Facebook is exploring to further streamline its services that include Messenger, which became a separate app in 2014, and WhatsApp. Connor Hayes, director of product management at Messenger, told Bloomberg that it's meant to reduce the need to jump back and forth between the company's main app and its Messenger service.

Facebook already has plans to unify its messaging apps. In September 2020, it enabled the ability to chat and send messages between Instagram and Messenger, and the social network previously said that WhatsApp would also get inter-app messaging capabilities. The company tested putting a simpler version of Messenger within the main app last year, as well. That's something the social network been considering since at least 2019 when Jane Manchun Wong found an experimental feature that takes users straight to a "Chats" section when they tap on the messaging icon. Currently, doing so automatically opens the Messenger app.

Hayes told the publication that Facebook now considers Messenger as a service instead of a standalone app. We may see more of its technologies across the company's other apps in the future — in fact, Instagram, Oculus and Portal devices already use Messenger's technology for voice and video calls. "You’re going to start to see quite a bit more of this over time," he said.