A few weeks ago, Facebook released its video chat service to a small number of countries. It is accessed through the Facebook Messenger service, which is now expanding into a new platform distinct from the main Facebook social media service. For many of us, Facebook Messenger has the potential to be a service that works across every platform, unlike FaceTime and iMessage, which are locked into the Apple ecosystem.
Facebook’s Messenger app has supported audio calling for some time, in addition to its most common use for instant messaging. Video was introduced just under a month ago, as was the ability to use Messenger for sending financial transactions, as the platform is being opened up to third parties as a new development platform.
In some ways, Facebook’s integration of video is superior to Apple’s. When you’re in a IM conversation, Facebook puts audio and video calls one tap away whereas Apple’s iOS Messages apps make you tap a ‘Details’ button that exposes that capability. It’s a small thing, but putting a feature one tap, rather than two, away is a significant usability advantage.
Video calling for Facebook Messenger is available globally, with the exception of a few countries where Facebook is working on improving quality. The Facebook Messenger app is a free download from the App Store.