Your New Phone: Facebook

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Not content with playing home to gazillions of your family barbecue photos or a megatrillion updates about cats, Facebook is branching out and taking on yet another aspect of social networking: old-fashioned voice calls.

The hitherto humble little Facebook chat window, which lurks unobtrusively at the bottom of your Facebook wall, now offers you the chance to connect to any of your contacts for an actual chat.

Teenagers around the world might recoil in horror at the thought of it, but it’s true.

The new feature comes via a Facebook application called Bobsled, co-created by phone network operator T-Mobile and voice technology company Vivox, who have just announced a deal.

OK, so web-based voice chat isn’t a big deal. There’s a dozen or more services offering it already, not least of them Google.

What matters here is the context of the chat service. If it’s inside Facebook, the millions of people who already spend many hours a day there should be more easily enticed to use it. No need to visit a separate site or open another application–just click and chat.

Of course, we all know what happens to voice chat services once they’ve had some time to breathe. That’s right, they turn into video chat services.

Soon, you’ll probably be able to go to those barbecues and watch those cats in real time! Err – yippee?