Facebook isn’t taking the explosion of video conferencing/chatting apps lying down. The social network has launched a slew of new features, across its various platforms, that will aid group communications.
First up is Messenger Rooms, which is a direct response to the popularity of apps like Houseparty and Zoom. The new video calling tool will host up to 50 users at a time and there’s no time limit on the calls either.
Users don’t require a Facebook account or any additional software to get involved and the call’s host can invite anyone to participate just by sharing a link.
Facebook also says there’ll be integration with WhatsApp, Instagram Direct and the Portal smart displays. Participants can be invited directly, while it’ll also be possible to join open rooms by clicking on links posted to the news feed, groups and events section on the main Facebook portal.
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The company says hosts must approve those joining the Room, regardless of whether the room is set to locked or unlocked, while the instigator of the call must be present for the call to commence. Facebook promises that the new Room feature will not record or listen to any of the calls that take place via the platform, while it’ll be easy for hosts to cast out troublemakers.
“Lately Facebook has felt the demand for real-time video. Between WhatsApp and Messenger, more than 700 million accounts participate in calls every day. In many countries, video calling on Messenger and WhatsApp more than doubled, and views of Facebook Live and Instagram Live videos increased significantly in March. But there’s more to do to make real-time feel real.”
“Spending time with each other should be spontaneous, not strained. So to help people feel like they’re together, even when they are — or have to be — physically apart, we’re announcing features across our products that make video chat and live video easier and more natural,” the company wrote in a blog post on Friday.
Elsewhere, Facebook is also improving the Facebook Dating experience in the coming months to include virtual dates. It’ll be possible for users to ask someone out on a one-on-one video call via Facebook Messenger. Cute. Live videos are getting a donate button, while Instagram Stories videos can saved to IGTV to ensure they stick around a little longer than the usual 24-hour window
Related: How to use Messenger Rooms