Facebook has announced the launch of a new feature in its video chat offering called “Messenger Rooms”. This is Facebook’s response to the crazy growth of Zoom over the past few weeks of the COVID-19 lockdowns happening pretty much worldwide.
The company said that Messenger Rooms is currently being tested in a few countries and will be rolled out globally in the coming weeks.
Facebook Messenger already had the video chat option but was limited both in the total number of participants, and its requirement for all of them to have a Facebook account.
But with Messenger Rooms, participants can receive a link to the Room join the conversation with just a click – just like with Zoom. Importantly, Messenger Rooms has no time limit whatsoever.
The company is also making it easier for those with a bad internet connection to be able to access the live videos by just listening to them using the audio-only option.
If you join a Room through the Messenger app, then you can play with AR effects and new features like immersive backgrounds and mood lighting.
The Rooms feature is not end-to-end encrypted, because “there are significant challenges” to providing such encryption for video calling with large groups of people. However, Facebook says it’s actively working towards this for the future. In the meantime, Room content is encrypted between participants and the Facebook servers, that are “placed in only a handful of countries that have strong rule of law”. The company also promises that it doesn’t watch or listen to your audio or video calls.
Due to the Coronavirus lockdown, video calling apps like Houseparty and Zoom have taken off like never before. Zoom became the talk of the tech town and being used in almost every company. It has seen its daily active users reaching 300 million from 10 million couple of months ago.
“Messenger Rooms make it easy to spend quality time with friends, loved ones and people who share your interests. 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, ” said the company in its announcement.