Facebook is taking on video conferencing veterans like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams with a new group video chat feature that it calls Messenger Rooms.
The company is exploiting the dependence on video chats to keep in touch amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
This feature will allow Facebook users to create a video chat room via Facebook or the Messenger app. Messenger Rooms lets users invite up to 50 people to join a video call.
This is possible even if those invited do not have a Facebook account. The calls will also have no time limit and will be free.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced the feature via a live stream on 24th April 2020. Zuckerberg also told The Verge that the new video feature was built in line with the company’s shift toward creating more private messaging tools.
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“Video presence isn’t a new area for us. But it’s an area that we want to go deeper in, and it fits the overall theme, which is that we’re shifting more resources in the company to focus on private communication and private social platforms, rather than just the traditional broader ones.
“So this is a good mix: we’re building tools into Facebook and Instagram that are helping people find smaller groups of people to then go have more intimate connections with, and be able to have private sessions with,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook says Messenger Rooms will support AI-enabled virtual backgrounds, which seems like a direct swipe at Zoom. Zuckerberg also boasts the virtual backgrounds will span 360 degrees, taking the video experience to “the next level.”
Facebook says it will add Messenger Rooms integration to Instagram, WhatsApp, and the Portal video. This means users can join the Facebook new video chat from any other app or device that they are on. This just like the unified Messenger app the company launched in March 2020.
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