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Facebook’s products have always been about connecting people. Over the years they have focused on how to help people feel present with one another even when they’re not in the same place. Today, video helps most of us bridge the distance. Tomorrow, we’ll be turning to more immersive platforms like AR and VR.
Lately Facebook has felt the demand for real-time video. Between WhatsApp and Messenger, more than 700 million accounts participate in calls every day. In many countries, video calling on Messenger and WhatsApp more than doubled, and views of Facebook Live and Instagram Live videos increased significantly in March. But there’s more to do to make real-time feel real.
Spending time with each other should be spontaneous, not strained. So to help people feel like they’re together, even when they are — or have to be — physically apart, Facebook have announced features across their products that make video chat and live video easier and more natural.
Messenger Rooms make it easy to spend quality time with friends, loved ones and people who share your interests. Create a room right from Messenger or Facebook, and invite anyone to join your video call, even if they don’t have a Facebook account. Rooms will soon hold up to 50 people with no time limit.
Host celebrations, gather a book club or just hang out on the couch with friends. You don’t need to call someone and hope it’s a good time or check everyone’s calendar first. You can start and share rooms on Facebook through News Feed, Groups and Events, so it’s easy for people to drop by. Soon they will be adding ways to create rooms from Instagram Direct, WhatsApp and Portal, too.
If your friends or communities create rooms that are open to you, you’ll see them on Facebook so you can find things to do and people to hang out with. When you’re invited to a room, you can join from your phone or computer — no need to download anything to get started. If you have the Messenger app, you can play with AR effects like bunny ears, and new AI-powered features like immersive 360 backgrounds and mood lighting.
When you create a room, you choose who can see and join it. You can remove people from the call and lock a room if you don’t want anyone else to enter. Read more about the controls you have and how we built Rooms with privacy and security in mind.
Messenger Rooms is rolling out in some countries this week and will expand to the rest of the world in coming weeks.
WhatsApp calls are another way to stay in touch. Soon you’ll be able to have group voice and video calls with up to eight people on WhatsApp. As before, these calls are secured with end-to-end encryption so no one else can view or listen to your private conversation, not even WhatsApp.
People are turning to Facebook Live and Instagram Live for workout classes, cooking lessons, faith services and more, so we’re adding features to make them even more useful.
Messenger Kids can help kids stay in touch with friends and family in a fun, parentally-supervised environment. They are starting to expand the free video calling and messaging app to more than 70 countries and adding new options to help parents connect kids with their friends.
To help people find meaningful relationships even when they can’t meet in person, we’re adding an option in Facebook Dating to invite people to a virtual date. When they accept, you’ll start a video chat in Messenger to get to know each other. This will roll out in the coming months.