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If you’re an optimist, you might see Facebook’s many entries into Internet messaging as diverse, giving users many options for getting in touch with friends and family. With the main Facebook app, as well as the Messenger and Poke apps, there are indeed many ways that you can interact with those you’re connected to on the service. If you’re a cynic, or heck, if you’re just someone who prefers services that are streamlined, you may see Facebook’s many apps as confusing pieces of a fragmented messaging strategy.

Whichever side of the boat you’re on, you have one more feature to love or loathe. Facebook is adding voice messaging to its Messenger app — just its Messenger app — and is also testing out voice over IP (VoIP) calls for Messenger users in Canada. Just Canada.

Facebook made a promise last year to stay nimble and update frequently in the mobile space, and boy, has it kept that promise. The new voice messaging feature in Messenger enables users to send a one-minute sound clip as part of a Messenger conversation. So if you’re exchanging text messages back and forth inside the app, you might suddenly see a wave pattern emerge in a chat bubble instead of text. Tapping this wave begins playback of the recording, which you can also access through the Messages section of the Facebook website. A really good use case escapes me at the moment, unless you’re not a fan of using Siri or Google’s speech-to-text feature for voice transcription. Then you might find Facebook’s voice messaging a great addition.

Facebook has also revealed that it’s testing out VoIP calling with Canadian Messenger users. The technology behind the fbvoicevoice calling feature is not Skype, the company Facebook worked with on its website video messaging feature, but is instead built on an open-source platform. This feature can be accessed by tapping the “i” information button in a Messenger conversation, and then tapping “Free Call.” Voice calling eats up a lot of data, so if you’re a Canadian on a limited data plan and you don’t have a Wi-Fi hotspot nearby, you’ve been warned.

Voice messaging and voice calling are neat features, but they’re brought into an already crowded field of Facebook communication methods. The sheer number of ways you can message or Poke friends is now bordering on ridiculous, and Facebook has to know it. Will you send your photo through Messenger or Poke? Is it the Poke app or the Messenger app that does video? Why am I getting message notifications in both the main Facebook app and the Messenger app? Why are there so many friggin’ apps? Don’t get me wrong, I love that Facebook is all-in on mobile, but there has got to be a better way to do it than this. Please.

I just received my notice for the Messenger update in the App Store. If you don’t see it, you should sometime later today. That goes for Android users, too.


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