Facebook Messenger has launched a group-calling feature that allows users to simultaneously dial up to 50 friends online. Messenger's top executive, David Marcus, announced via Facebook that the free service is rolling out globally over the next 24 hours to all Messenger users with the latest Android and iOS app updates.
Users from any group chat can initiate a group call by tapping the Phone icon, then selecting the members to dial. Everyone who is invited will receive a Messenger call simultaneously. Similar to that of a person-to-person call, individuals have the option to accept, ignore or decline a call.
In cases of missed calls, invited participants can join a call that is still in progress by tapping the Phone icon in the group chat. Messenger also allows users to view the list of people who are in the call, as well as send messages to participants.
Facebook Messenger is one of Facebook's most popular products and currently has more than 900 million active users. The app is the latest in the long line of products that are moving toward voice and video interactions instead of the usual text messaging.
Facebook has been known to continuously update and upgrade its platforms and Messenger is no different. In addition to the new group-calling feature, Messenger has previously added social casual games, AI chatbots and payment features that allow people to send and receive money via Facebook.
Facebook Messenger's competition, Slack, has earlier announced that it will be rolling out a voice and video messaging platform this year, while Snapchat says the app's video messaging feature will continue to evolve as it releases additional voice capabilities. Another major competitor, Google Hangouts, has many features similar to Facebook Messenger, including group video chat over IP, money transfers, and social apps like doodle drawing in addition to the traditional landline and mobile phone dialing.
With the explosive popularity and ease of use of Apple's Facetime, allowing quick personal connections through video chatting, Facebook is leveraging the popularity of the largest global social network to deliver a similar on-demand social platform.
The company believes that through these new features, it can become a major player in the global video chat space. With the power of group video chat enabling Facebook's 1.59 billion active users to instantly connect face-to-face, the world is about to become much smaller.