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Facebook Takes On Skype By Launching Free Video Calls On Messenger App

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Facebook Messenger now offers video calls.

Users of the world?s most popular social networking site can now enjoy face-to-face chat with friends using their mobile device thanks to the new video call feature of the Messenger app. Facebook had announced the arrival of free video calling to its separate Messenger application on both iOS and Android.

Taking on Microsoft?s Skype and Apple?s Facetime

On Monday, the social media giant added a video call functionality to its mobile messaging client. That means users can now video chat aside from sending messages, emojis, stickers, and making calls right from the standalone Messenger app. This makes the application more appealing to avid fans of messaging services since it works on two of the most popular platforms–Android and iOS. Tech site Re/Code mentioned that the interface of the new feature looks and works very similarly to Apple?s FaceTime.

Before integrating this functionality into mobile devices, the Menlo Park-based company has initially introduced desktop video calling four years ago in partnership with Skype. Eventually, Facebook built its own video call infrastructure.

With roughly 1.44 billion on Facebook and 600 million Messenger users, the new voice over IP (VOIP) video feature has a massive built-in audience, TechCrunch noted. Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during last week?s earnings call that Messenger already has a 10% share of all global mobile VOIP calls. Zuckerberg thinks ?free, high audio quality VOIP will displace traditional phone calling, and video calling could accelerate that.?

Earlier this month, TheBitbag reported that the social network also rolled out a desktop version of the service that?s similar to WhatsApp Web. Meanwhile, The Verge observes that this is all part of an effort to turn Messenger into an ?Asian-style? messaging platform like the Japanese LINE app and China-based WeChat, which generate hefty revenues through e-commerce, gaming, and other in-app services.

How to use the new video call feature

Once the update is installed in a user?s device, making a video call is simple–all that?s needed is a single tap on the video icon located at the top right corner of a chat screen. As mentioned, the service is cross-platform so video calling can be done even if one person is on Android and the other is on iOS, or vice versa.

Moreover, the feature doesn?t need Wi-Fi, video calls can be made even if the user is on a data plan. Stan Chudnovsky, Messenger?s Head of Product, said that their developers focused on making video work efficiently even on relatively low-bandwidth cell network connections.

This update is currently available in only a handful of countries including the U.S., the U.K., Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal and Uruguay. The company promised that more countries will be treated with this feature in the coming months.

See the new Messenger video call feature in action below.

[jwplayer mediaid=”112169″]

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Photo Credit: Messenger Video Call Press Kit

Video Credit: Youtube.com – Facebook

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