Facebook Messenger is rolling out group video chat, which the company says has been the most requested feature. Six users can appear in a split-screen at one time and wear selfie masks, a la Snapchat filters. In addition, up to 50 people can be a part of the conversation, piping in via voice, or by sending texts, stickers, emojis and GIFs.
The new feature is a bid to stay competitive with teen-heavy apps like Houseparty and Kik. Snapchat has not yet added group video chat services.
More than 1 billion people use Messenger, according to Facebook. The app has been adding regular features to encourage them to spend more time there. Other recent features include the ability to play games and send money to friends via Messenger. Group video chat rolled out worldwide on iOS, Android and web, though selfie masks are currently available only on iPhones.
Group video chat transforms Facebook Messenger into “more of a communication destination, rather than just a sporadically-used tool,” writes Josh Constine of TechCrunch. He speculates that the addition will push Messenger into “more of its own full-fledged real-time social network, while Facebook proper becomes a hub for consuming existing content.”
Last month, Facebook launched an inbox that displays updates from Facebook, Messenger and Instagram in one place, in an effort to streamline companies’ communication with their customers. In October, the company released Workplace, a business version of its social media platform designed for office messaging.