Facebook Messenger adds free video calling, fires shot across Skype’s bow

Facebook has announced it is rolling out free video calling for users of its standalone Messenger app for iOS and Android.

Users of the app will now be able to begin a video call with a single tap from within the conversation window, a la Apple’s FaceTime feature within Messages.

Best of all, Facebook says, the feature won’t require users to be connected to a Wi-Fi network as video calls can be made over mobile data.

The addition will give Messenger the opportunity to compete with established do-all messaging services available on the iOS and Android platforms.

Both Hangouts and Messages include the ability to chat and make video calls, while Facebook’s rollout will also allow it to challenge Skype’s status as one of the leading third party solutions.

Facebook received a lot of criticism
for removing the chat functionality from the main app, but has spent a lot of time building out the feature set.

At its F8 conference last month the social network announced an SDK that would allow third-party developers to build their own features into Messenger.

The Messenger app also allows users to send money to each other, while businesses will soon be able to use the platform to live chat with customers.  

Read more: Facebook F8 conference highlights

The video calling feature launches today for Facebook Messenger users on iOS and Android in Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, the UK, the US and Uruguay. It’ll reach more locations in the coming months.

Video calling is already available for Messenger users within the Facebook.com website and the brand new standalone Messenger.com application.

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