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Messenger Rooms to WhatsApp group calling update, here’s everything Facebook announced

Facebook has introduced new features and updates to help users connect better virtually amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Facebook launches Messenger Rooms and other new features
Facebook launches Messenger Rooms and other new features (Facebook)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced new features for the company's key platforms including Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp. The new features are aimed at helping users connect better virtually as well as focus on giving more flexibility to users how they want to connect.

The announcements include a Zoom-like service called "Messenger Rooms" and expanding group calling limit on WhatsApp to eight people in one session. Facebook is also allowing users to watch live videos on their desktop. For Portal users, they can go live from the smart speaker to Facebook Pages and Groups soon.

Facebook's new updates are aptly timed as people around the world are relying on virtual tools for connecting with each other due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Apps such as Zoom and HouseParty have become popular whereas legacy enterprise-focused apps like Teams and Google Meet have also seen a surge in usage. Zuckerberg notes that between Messenger and WhatsApp 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," said Facebook in a post.

Here's a round up of everything Facebook has announced

Messenger Rooms

Of everything that was announced by Zuckerberg, Messenger Rooms is the most important one. Inspired by the video conferencing apps, Messenger Rooms allows users to host video calls with up to 50 people. Like Zoom and other similar apps, you can simply share a link and invite others to join the call regardless they have Messenger on their devices or not. Facebook plans to launch rooms facility for Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Portal as well.

WhatsApp Group Call

WhatsApp will now officially allow users to make calls up to 8 persons in a group. Earlier, users could call 4 people in a group. The update to WhatsApp comes shortly after the app made it easier to make group calling - one tap calling to all members in a group with up to 4 people. Rival apps such as Google Duo have already expanded the limit for their group calling. Nonetheless, WhatsApp is the largest instant messaging platform in the world.

Instagram Live

Instagram has already extended a lot of mobile features to desktop. The latest is the ability to watch live videos from the desktop. Users can also comment on these videos. Once the Live video is over, users have the option to save it as the IGTV. This will allow users to save their videos for more than 24 hours in Stories.

 

On Portal

Portal users can now go live from the smart speaker with display to Facebook Pages and Groups. The device already supports Facebook Live app but starting this month users can share with their communities.

Facebook Live

Facebook is bringing back the "Live With" functionality that allows users to add their friends to the live videos. Facebook now allows users label their events as online-only. Gaming enthusiasts can also now livestream games from their phones to Facebook via Facebook's Gaming application.

Live With feature returns to Facebook
Live With feature returns to Facebook (Facebook)

"We're making it easier to access live video so you can watch or listen anywhere. If you have limited data or a spotty connection, you now have the option to listen to the audio only. If you don't have a Facebook account, most public live videos are now available on the web and some Pages can share a toll-free number that lets you listen to the audio through any telephone," explained Facebook.

Messenger Kids

Facebook's Messenger Kids is now rolling out to 70 new countries. The application is also including new features to help parents connect their kids with their friends.

Virtual Dates

Facebook announced it will allow Dating users to make video calls. Touted as virtual dates, Facebook Dating will be getting the feature in the coming months.