Jan. 3, 2013 at 7:44 PM ET
Facebook issued an update Thursday for its iOS Messenger app that lets users speak to one another or leave short recorded messages. This puts the app in competition with such major services as Skype and Vonage — but is only available in Canada for now.
Of course you can already make calls to people using your phone, but this would let you call any other Facebook Messenger user worldwide, at least if people outside Canada had access to it. It's likely that Facebook limited it to our neighbor to the north in order to test it on a smaller scale before rolling it more widely over the next few weeks.
The rest of the world will be getting a more minor update allowing short recorded messages to be sent to other Messenger users, which isn't quite as powerful but still could be useful.
Facebook's app is only one of many apps that aims to improve upon and eventually replace text messaging. With billions (perhaps trillions) of texts being sent every month, it's a huge market to break into — and consumers are eager to leave behind fees for SMS services which many consider excessive.
The app update is available to interested Canadians in the App Store now.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBCNews Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.