In a likely attempt to stay at par with the growing user base of WhatsApp, social networking giant Facebook has added video chat feature to its Messenger app on Monday. Hence from now on, users can text, call and video chat via the standalone messaging app.
The new functionality has a striking similarity with Apple’s FaceTime offering hassle free connection to video chats with your messenger contacts. The feature does not need a Broadband or Wi-Fi connection, as users can start making video class using a nominal data plan. Messenger’s product management lead Stan Chudnovsky said the team has devoted a lot of efforts so that app even works in areas where connectivity is weak.
The company said in an official blog post on Monday that it has begun rolling out the Messenger upgrade to Android and iOS users in about 18 countries including the United States, Mexico, and certain parts of Europe, and will be available in other parts of the globe very soon.
Facebook Messenger has seen an exponential rise in the past six months and currently has more than 600 million users. It has evolved from an instant messaging app to a more full-fledged standalone app.
The new video calling feature is a way to upgrade instantly from a simple text conversation if participants think it’s necessary to include a video clip.
“Let’s say he was in Hawaii and chatting online with a friend back in San Francisco. “I say, ‘I wish you could see the waves I’m looking at now,” he said. He could then turn on the video feature and share the view with his friend. “There was no intent to have that conversation on video,” adds Stan Chudnovsky.
However, the company in a way forced its users to download Messenger after removing it from the core app, for users to be able to send private Facebook messages on mobile devices. Users were quite infuriated as they were forced to download a separate app. In response, Zuckerberg justified his reason for the split, saying that it would be easier to build related products for Messenger as a standalone app compared to a feature integrated within Facebook’s main app.
Meanwhile, Facebook also announced a new feature last month that allows Messenger users to send money to each other. Later, it made Messenger open for outside developers, allowing users to download a wide array of apps to send funny GIFs and other animated messages.