Facebook’s Messenger is launching a new group video chat feature that will basically allow up to six people to appear in split screen conversing in real time to one another. On top of that, this new capability will also let users incorporate selfie masks (a la Snapchat). Moreover, a maximum of 50 people will be able to listen and talk over voice, and also make use of text messages, stickers, emoji, and animated GIFs.
Messenger started as a means for people on Facebook to initiate chat conversations with each other. But with the latest group video chat capability, Messenger has become a place where people can hang out and make funny faces and basically just chill. There is nothing wrong with text chats and all, but messaging is made infinitely more fun when you can put virtual goofy glasses, noses, or mustaches on your faces.
Facebook is now in the process of globally deploying the group video chat feature on Android, iOS, and web. A note for Android mobile users though -- they may have to wait for the MSQRD powered selfie masks that might never arrive on desktop. It is made available free of charge on Wi-Fi, but regular data charges will apply when used on cellular networks.
When it comes to video chat features, Facebook’s Messenger has been busy improving its capabilities in the last couple of years. It launched one on one video chats back in April of last year, then almost exactly a year later, debuted group audio calling about eight months ago. It is estimated that some 245 million users take full advantage of video chats on Messenger on a monthly basis. So it is a good bet that with the new group video chat feature, people will be using Messenger for video call purposes even more.
By deploying the new functionality, Messenger also becomes the first well known western messaging platform to have a group video chat feature. Other rival messaging apps such as Snapchat, FaceTime/iMessage, and Google Duo have yet to debut their respective takes on group video chat.
A less known rival is Houseparty, the new app from the creators of Meerkat. Some users may see some similarities between that app and Facebook’s constantly improving Messenger. But unlike Houseparty which lets users log into an ever present video chat room that notifies their friends, Messenger has people deliberately pick which friends to start a group video chat with, or which group text thread to invite a video call.
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