I'm watching Facebook's live video stream right now like many other tech interested users. Facebook promised to announce something awesome today.
The rumor that it was live video chat, or video calling as they call it, proved to be true. But that's only part of the announcement.
Facebook is actually announcing three new features today and all three of them are directly related to Facebook chat.
Probably the most requested feature of the three is the new group chat option, allowing Facebook users to chat not only with one friend but additional friends. This can be easily done by clicking on the new "Add friends to chat" button in the chat window.
The second new feature is video calling in cooperation with Skype. It is now possible to call friends with a click on the Call button that is available on profiles and in chat windows.
It is not clear yet if group video chat will be available, but it seems as if it is limited to one on one chat for now.
Video Calling will be rolled out to all Facebook users over the coming weeks. Users who do not want to wait can get it right here on this Facebook page. Facebook recommends Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer or Safari. The company seems to check the browser and version on the page. My Firefox Aurora build for instance was rejected on the page.
Video calling isn't available on this browser. Please try again with a different browser.
The third and final announcement is for a new chat design that includes a sidebar listing people a user messages most.
Skype has released a new version of their program that integrates Facebook into the voice and video chat software. Facebook users can now integrate their Facebook stream into Skype, update their status from Skype and comment and like directly from the software as well.
To summarize. Facebook adds group chat and video calling to their site. Both features have been requested by many users and will make great additions. When you compare them to Google+, you will notice that Google this time is one step ahead. The hangout feature of Google+ supports live video chat with a maximum of ten contacts, whereas Facebook's video chat seems to be limited to one on one video chat currently.
Has the announcement fulfilled your expectations? Let me know in the comments (via).
I personally think that it is a big announcement and step into the right direction. It might even be bigger for Skype, who were recently acquired by Microsoft, considering that the company gets access to Facebook's 750 million user base.
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