Facebook’s relentless push to make Messenger happen is still happening, and you can now make video calls over data and Wifi with with Facebook’s messaging app.
Messenger’s new video feature debuted today in the US, UK, Canada, and a variety of other countries. If you see a little video icon in the top right corner of your screen, you’ve got it. So if you’re talking to a friend and realize that you want to see their face and not another Pusheen sticker, the feature lets you call them up on the spot.
You can quickly start a video call from any conversation with just one tap. If you’re messaging with someone and realize that words just aren’t enough, you can simply choose the video icon in the top right corner of the screen and start a video call right from within an existing Messenger conversation.
Phone calls will start with the front-facing camera turned on, but you can switch it to show whoever you’re talking to what’s going on around you.
For those of us who fear spontaneous face-to-face contact, this is kind of horrifying. But Facebook’s betting on an audience. This is another bid to push Messenger as its own communication platform, and it’s a big one, putting Facebook in direct competition with popular VoIP services like Skype, Google Hangouts, and Apple’s FaceTime.
The big advantage Messenger has here is a built-in contact list; there’s no need to go through the process of finding someone’s user info if they’re already your Facebook friend. That built-in contact list is also what Facebook’s counting on to compete with Venmo when it comes to sending money to friends.
Then again, that built-in contact list could be a liability. Just because I accept someone’s Facebook friend request doesn’t mean I want to talk to them on the phone. By allowing people to call up their Facebook friends (who, come on, are often just acquaintances), this feature could create a whole new genre of social media awkwardness: The dodged Messenger call. [Facebook]