Facebook has been focusing a lot this year on their Messenger feature. First, they made it necessary to download a separate app to use it via mobile. Then they expanded the chat function itself. More recently they added a whole list of playable games between friends, either through Messenger, or via their wall. Now, they have launched group video chat, a long demanded feature that could have a huge impact on the future of Facebook Messenger.
Facebook Messenger The New Skype?
Group calling has been a popular feature for services like GTalk and Skype for years. Facebook was slow to adopt it, but that isn’t a surprise given the almost side-status of Messenger until recently. Now with bots becoming a big part of their appeal, Facebook is doing everything in their power to up the ante and make it the big thing on the social networking market.
What gives this so much influence is not that they are doing what others have already been for years. It is that Facebook is a more accessible service. Your grandmother might not feel comfortable trying something like Skype. But there is a good chance she is already on Facebook, and has been pulled into group conversations before. With a single button she can video call on a platform she trusts.
It is this fact that makes Facebook group video calling such a potential success. The network transcends age demographics, and makes it a safer place for contact.
How It Works
Facebook Messenger allows video chat for up to six participants. However, up to 50 can join the call, either using audio to communicate, or just listening to the conversation. As people drop out of the video, others can take their place if they choose.
You begin a group video call by starting a group chat thread as you normally would. Then you use the video icon to either send an invite to everyone in the thread, or to individually invite certain people to the call. So if only some of you want to be on video/voice while still typing in the thread, that allows you to hold both conversations at once.
This is a super easy feature for anyone to use. I tried it this afternoon with some of my relatives, who barely know how to use their smatphones. Every one of them was able to easily join, and for most it was the first time they had used the front facing camera on their phone.