Facebook Inc introduced a video conferencing tool and expanded its live streaming features on Friday, to take advantage of the increased demand for video chats during the coronavirus pandemic.
The tool, called Messenger Rooms, will allow up to 50 people to participate in a video call, said a statement from the company, which is taking its first steps toward integrating messaging products into its applications.
Rooms will show a mosaic design with up to 16 participants in the desktop version and eight in the mobile version, similar to that offered by its competitor Zoom.
Facebook users will be able to share links so that others can join Rooms through a web browser, both on desktop computers and on mobile devices, eliminating the requirements to download an application or create an account as in other services.
There will be no time limits on calls.
With the launch, Facebook joins a crowded sector of companies seeking to dominate the video calling market at a time when millions of people locked up in their homes around the world depend on the tool for work, school and social life. .
The product was scheduled to launch in the third and fourth quarters of the year, but Facebook accelerated plans after observing the increase in group calls during quarantines, Messenger chief Stan Chudnovsky told Reuters.
Facebook said in the statement that there are currently more than 700 million accounts participating in calls on WhatsApp and Messenger each day.
Alphabet’s Microsoft Corp, Zoom Video Communications, Cisco Systems Inc and Google have also rolled out updates to their video conferencing tools while reporting record growth in utilization since the quarantine began.
On Tuesday, Microsoft introduced a new “Meet Now” for Skype that can host video meetings for up to 50 people without downloading any applications.
Google, whose Meet for Business tool has been its fastest-growing service this year, said this month that it was also working on improvements for consumers.