A new service designed to let Twitter users make short, tweet-like phone calls to one another begins its beta testing period today.
Jajah, , an IP communications company based in the US., launched the free service, called Jajah@call today. It's set up to allow Twitter users to launch two-minute, two-way voice chats with any other Twitter user - even without knowing the other person's phone number.
To use the new service, people have to be users of both Twitter and Jajah, the person receiving the call has to be a Twitter follower of the person making the call. In a statement, Jajah said the system should work on any Twitter platform -- from a computer to a mobile phone.
"Essentially, this is adding Skype-like functionality to Twitter," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "This is certainly a valid extension for the Twitter platform, but the one-to-one nature of the feature as it is now is a bit different than the existing Twitter model.
"If this catches on," he added, "further developments might include the ability for Twitterers to call all of their followers, which would certainly make it a lot easier for them to stream their every thought and activity without even having to take the trouble to type. That will certainly be something to behold -- and perhaps a sign of the apocalypse."
Social networking seems to be leaving the realm of text-online behind. Earlier this week, Vivox, a Boston-based company, announced that engineers there are working on an application that should enable Facebook users - whether individuals or groups -- to have voice chats online. Vivox said it's looking to add a new dimension to online reunions or meetings.
"With Facebook adding much the same functionality, it looks like social networking is moving away from typing all of a sudden," added Olds. "These new mechanisms will be used, but voice probably won't prove to be a must-have feature for most users."