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It’s not polite to call someone out of the blue anymore. That’s why Facebook thinks video calling will live naturally inside Messenger.
Today, Messenger is launching free VOIP video calling over cellular and wifi connections on i OS and Android in the U. Facebook’s goal is to connect people face to face no matter where they are or what mobile connection they have.
With Messenger, someone on a new i Phone with strong LTE in San Francisco could video chat with someone on a low-end Android with a few bars of 3G in Nigeria.
Here’s a quick video from Facebook showing Messenger video calls in action: Facebook first introduced desktop video calling in partnership with Skype in 2011, but eventually built its own video call infrastructure.
Bringing it to mobile could Messenger a serious competitor to i OS-only Face Time, clunky Skype, and less-ubiquitous Google Hangouts.
With 600 million Messenger users and 1.44 billion on Facebook, the new VOIP video feature has a massive built-in audience.
Mark Zuckerberg said on last week’s Facebook earnings call that Messenger already accounts for 10% of global mobile VOIP calls.
Instead, it knows more messaging drives lock in with Facebook’s News Feed where it makes tons of money from ads. Tapping it starts a video call, which opens when the recipient accepts.
Facebook Messenger’s Head Of Product Stan Chudnovsky who led the video calling feature tells me, “Whatever’s good for Messenger is good for Facebook as a company.” Video calling in Messenger will become available today for i OS and Android users in Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the U. Cameras start in selfie mode but you can toggle to the backside camera to show a friend what you’re doing.
Messenger will adjust the quality of the call according to your connection.
The demo I saw showed just a hint of pixelation and strong frame rate with 2 bars of LTE service in SF.
It’s easy to switch to just VOIP audio, and Facebook will gracefully notify you if the connection weakens to where video won’t work.
It’s all free on Facebook’s side, and users will only be charged for data use by their mobile operator, which they can avoid by using Wi-Fi.