After rumors that Skype and Facebook were in talks to add Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capability to Facebook chat, coming from nowhere, the newly released Bobsled app by T-Mobile just jumped at this opportunity by providing free voice calling to Facebook members worldwide. Days of calling people with a phone number are numbered.
T-Mobile has announced a new service named Bobsled and that is worth getting excited about. Why? Because it means that you can make free voice calls through Facebook — even if you're not a T-Mobile customer.
Once you install the app (powered by Vivox
), a little phone will appear by online friends’ screen names of those who have the app installed, and placing a phone call is just a click away. Bobsled takes out the need to dial friends’ numbers, or remember screen names, which is required by Bobsled’s competitors on Google Talk and Skype. You can also leave a voice message for your friends and family when they are not available. The messages can be public by posting a link on your friends wall or they can be marked private and will be sent via Private Message.
Bobsled will eventually be a suite of services but T-Mobile is launching it first as an app for people using PC or Mac computers. According to T-Mobile’s official press release
, Brad Duea, Senior Vice President, T-Mobile is confident that the service will continue to expand, possibly even to T-Mobile’s mobile platforms.
“Integrated voice on Facebook is a critical part of our roadmap for Bobsled by T-Mobile
and Vivox is the clear leader in this area,” said Duea, “Vivox is a talented and innovative company, and we look forward to a successful partnership with Vivox.”
In the near future, T-Mobile plans to evolve Bobsled by T-Mobile
to include video chat, the ability to place VoIP calls to mobile and landline U.S. numbers, and will offer applications on smartphones and tablets across various mobile platforms, regardless of the carrier that powers such devices.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of the service, visit www.LetsBobsled.com
or look for the free download from Facebook’s mobile app page
. From what I can tell, the install is fairly simple and is finished in three steps.
The social networking phenomenon Facebook is all about connecting people. Plans to add Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication to Facebook could be the chosen method of staying in touch for many in the future. A few Facebook users have started seeing a “Call” button randomly show up when they visit their friends' profiles. The new button doesn't seem to do anything, but it's not too big of a stretch to guess that Facebook wants to start doing VoIP calls.
Facebook likely will not develop the technology on its own. After all, the social networking giant has been working on deep integration with Skype to deliver SMS and voice/video chat using Facebook Connect for the last four months, if not longer. With the release of Skype 5.0 for Windows three months ago, we saw Facebook phonebook and browsing integration in the new Skype client.
Will we soon see Skype integration on Facebook? Admittedly, nothing actually suggests Skype in these leaks, but we're assuming so anyway; these screenshots are easy to fake, but we don't really see any motivation to do so.
The image above is courtesy of AroundThe.Net. Another user also saw the button appear and sent in a slightly different screenshot to The Daily What.