Facebook’s Zoom Competitor, Messenger Rooms, Offers Free Group Video Calling for Up to 50 People

Facebook Video Calling Products

Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, people are finding solace in video calling and video conferencing apps like Houseparty and Zoom. Although Facebook offers video calling through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and a large group of people might find them limiting. So, the company is rolling out a bunch of new features across all its products to make video calls easier.

First and foremost, Facebook has announced Facebook Messenger Rooms, which is a tool to start group video calls with up to 50 people. The company is also doubling the number of people that can join group video calls in WhatsApp from four to eight. It is also adding video calling feature to Facebook Dating and adding live video streaming features to Facebook and Instagram.

With Messenger Rooms, you can create a virtual room and include up to 50 friends in it. The owner of the Room can decide if it is open to tall or limit it to certain people. Friends can then join a video call whenever they like, and they don’t need to be on any of Facebook’s platforms to access the feature. Anyone can use a link to the group to join group video calls.

Facebook Messenger Rooms Group Video Calling iOS Color Background

The new feature works across Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and the web. The company has announced that the feature will be rolled out starting today, where the Facebook Messenger is available, but the 50-person limit will be rolled out in the US in the next few weeks.

A Messenger Room can first be initiated from Facebook or Messenger. Later, the Rooms feature will be rolled out to Instagram Direct, Portal, and WhatsApp. In the Room, people can play with Facebook’s AR (Augmented Reality) features, swap out real-life backgrounds with virtual ones, and use AR face filters.

WhatsApp Group Video Calling Green Background

While Messenger Rooms video calls are not encrypted end-to-end, but the company asserts that it doesn’t listen to calls. The owner of the Room can remove people at any time, and Rooms, where illicit behavior is taking place, can be reported to Facebook. WhatsApp video calls, on the other hand, feature end-to-end encryption.

Facebook Live will get back a feature called Live With, which allows you to go on a live video stream with another person. There will be a Donate button so that people can raise funds via live video streams in countries where that’s allowed.

Facebook Dating Video Calling White Background

After Instagram users are finished with their live video streams, they can post those videos to IGTV as well as their Instagram Stories. Moreover, Instagram live video streams would also be available on the web for the first time. While Facebook Portal users can already appear on live video streams via their profiles, they would be able to start live video streams through Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned in an interview today with The Verge that all the new video calling features unveiled today were built in line with the company’s shift towards creating more private messaging tools. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 700 million people have reportedly been using video calling features on Facebook and WhatsApp.

Facebook Messenger Rooms Group Video Calling MacOS Desktop Color Background

Unlike Zoom, Facebook’s video calling features were designed with strong privacy features in mind. Zuckerberg said that the group video calling features’ reliance on real-life family and friends makes it hard for unknown persons to intrude on a user’s privacy and harass people.

Users can create rooms that are locked to specific people and can kick people out of Rooms. Participants can report bad behavior and leave the Room anytime. Facebook users can also block people from inviting them to unwanted Rooms.

Instagram IGTV Live Video Story On Web Brower Pink Background

Our Take

People have been relying a lot on video calling apps like Houseparty, Skype, Slack, Teams, WhatsApp, and Zoom for work and socializing. User acquisition and engagement shot up several times across all these apps.

However, Facebook’s products haven’t seen as high growth as the company would’ve liked. No wonder, the company took the video calling idea and embedded into all its products, including Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, IGTV, Portal, and WhatsApp.

Facebook Portal Video Calling Green Background
[Source: Facebook]