As people transition to “life online” amid the pandemic, Zoom, Skype and other video chat apps have surged in popularity. To keep up with the video conferencing market, other social media platforms have introduced their own video chat features. Recently, Facebook launched “Messenger Rooms” and Google Meet is now free even if users aren’t G Suite customers.
Both Facebook and Google are transforming the ways their users communicate on their apps — with more people, more time, more accessibility.
Facebook Messenger brands itself as “more ways to connect when you’re apart” via their blog. The platform aims to tackle the communicative challenges people are facing today while making their app more competitive than Zoom.
“Messenger Rooms make it easy to spend quality time with friends, loved ones and people who share your interests,” the blog says.
Messenger Rooms Hosts More People
With “Messenger Rooms,” users can host group calls with up to 50 people — less than the 100 participants Zoom allows. However, anyone can join.
Unlike Zoom, you don’t need an account for Facebook Messenger. Facebook users can post links on their News Feed, Groups, or Event pages.
“When you’re invited to a room, you can join from your phone or computer — no need to download anything to get started,” the Facebook blog states. “If you have the Messenger app, you can play with AR effects like bunny ears, and new AI-powered features like immersive 360 backgrounds and mood lighting.”
Concerns for strangers joining in on the fun are eliminated with “Messenger Rooms.” Facebook lets you remove people from the room or lock a room if you don’t want anyone else to pop in.
Facebook also plans to change its other services.
Changes to WhatsApp, Instagram, Portal, & More
Whatsapp — the messenger app Facebook bought in 2014 — is adding group voice and video calls with up to eight people. In order to address the traffic on Instagram, Portal, and Facebook Live, Facebook is adding new features.
“We’re making it easier to access live video so you can watch or listen anywhere. If you have limited data or a spotty connection, you now have the option to listen to the audio only,” the blog says.
While Instagram is a social media favorite for mobile users, Facebook is making it easier to interact with others on desktop, too.
“You can now watch and comment on live videos from your desktop,” the blog explains.
A lesser-known Facebook product, Portal — smart displays by Facebook launched in 2018 — will soon let users work between Portal and Facebook Pages and Groups.
Messenger Kids is also expanding its video calling and messaging features to more than 70 countries.
And for Facebook singles, Facebook Dating is rolling out a video chat feature.
“To help people find meaningful relationships even when they can’t meet in person, we’re adding an option in Facebook Dating to invite people to a virtual date,” Facebook’s website states.
Google Meet’s challenge to Zoom involves no-strings-attached access, even for those who aren’t G Suite users.
As long as you have a Gmail account, you’ll enjoy 60-minute hangouts — a time limit not enforced until September 30th — with up to 100 friends and family members.
However, if you’d like to expand your hosting constraints, G Suite users can have up to 250 participants, live streams for up to 100,000 viewers, and you can record and save calls.
Regardless of the service you’re using, these companies are doing their best to make staying at home more fun.
Facebook Messenger Rooms — Sources
Facebook takes on Zoom with ‘Messenger Rooms’
Zoom gets a new rival as Facebook Messenger Rooms launches 50-way video calls
Messenger Rooms are Facebook’s answer to Zoom and Houseparty for the pandemic
Introducing Messenger Rooms and More Ways to Connect When You’re Apart
Google Meet will soon be free for anyone with a Gmail account