Facebook introduces messenger rooms, more ways to connect with people virtually


Due to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, Facebook recently introduced new products that will make it easier for people to virtually connect and spend quality time with loved ones.

The company said last Friday, 24 April 2020, that it had taken time to monitor a rise in demand for real-time video with Video calling on Messenger and WhatsApp video more than doubling in areas most affected by COVID-19, while usage of Facebook Live and Instagram Live has increased significantly indicating a need to do more to make real-time feel real.

Facebook therefore announced features across its products that make video chat and live video more easy, useful and natural.

One of the new features are Messenger Rooms which are joinable group video calls that make it easy for users to spend quality time with friends, loved ones and people who share their interests. Users can create a room right from Messenger or Facebook, and invite anyone to join, even if they don’t have a Facebook account. According to Facebook, “Rooms will soon hold up to 50 people with no time limit.”

Users can also host celebrations, organize a book club or just hang out on the couch with friends. They don’t need to call someone and hope it’s a good time or check everyone’s calendar first. They can start and share rooms on Facebook through News Feed, Groups and Events, so it’s easy for people to drop by. Facebook says it will soon add ways to create rooms from Instagram Direct and WhatsApp too.

Users can join from both mobile and desktop application. When a user creates a room, they can choose who can see and join it and can remove people from the call and lock a room anytime they don’t want anyone else to enter.

Messenger Rooms is rolling out a test in some countries this week and will expand to the rest of the world in coming weeks.

Expanding WhatsApp group video calls

WhatsApp video calls are another way to stay in touch. Facebook has promised that soon users will 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.

New live video features for Facebook and Instagram

People are turning to Facebook Live and Instagram Live for workout classes, cooking lessons, faith services and more, to respond to this Facebook says it is adding interesting features to make them even more useful.

On Facebook…

Bringing back “Live With” a feature that enables users add another person into their live video, no matter where they are in the world. The feature will also allow users to bring on a guest speaker, interview an expert or perform with a friend.

Users will also be able to mark Facebook Events as online only and, in the coming weeks, integrate Facebook Live so that they can broadcast to their guests. To support creators and small businesses, Facebook plans to add the ability for Pages to charge for access to events with Live videos on Facebook – anything from online performances to classes to professional conferences.

To help users raise money for causes, users can now add the donate button to live videos wherever nonprofit fundraisers are available.

Facebook is making it easier to access live video so its users can watch or listen anywhere. For those with limited data or a spotty connection, there is now the option to listen to the audio only. For those who 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 users listen to the audio through any telephone.

Facebook users can also live stream games from their phone to Facebook using the new Facebook Gaming app available on Google Play. The app also lets users play games instantly, watch their favorite streamers and discover new gaming groups. Tournaments are another new feature for game streaming on Facebook that lets users create, play and watch the competition in one spot. Tournaments are available on Facebook today, and coming to the Facebook Gaming app soon.

To help users support some of their favorite creators, Facebook says it’s expanding Stars to more Pages and more countries. Once users buy Stars you can send them to creators while they’re streaming, and they’ll earn 1 cent for every Star.

On Instagram…

Instagram fans can now watch and comment on live videos from their desktop. They can also follow along with that yoga class on a bigger screen or listen to a live performance as they work.

After going live, Instagram users will soon be able to save their videos to IGTV so they stick around longer than the 24-hour limit in Stories and are easier for others to find.

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