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Facebook adds free calling to iOS app

The social network is giving even more of its mobile users a free way to reach friends through voice over IP.

Screenshot/Jennifer Van Grove

Facebook for iPhone now doubles as a way to phone a friend for free.

The social network today released version 5.5 of its iPhone and iPad application to allow for free friend-to-friend voice calling in the U.S. and Canada.

The voice-over-IP functionality extends a feature that was first introduced on Facebook Messenger to even more of the social network's mobile audience. The feature, which should appeal to teens and cheapskates, could help the social network keep the attention of its youngest users, some of whom have, according to a recent SEC filing by the company, "reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram."

Just as with Messenger, people can navigate to a pal's contact info -- click the friends tab, pick a buddy, and hit the "i" button -- to make a free voice call over Wi-Fi or data connection using the Facebook for iOS application.

In version 5.5, Facebook also tweaked its like, comment, and share buttons to encourage people to engage more with status updates.