Turns out Mark Zuckerberg’s promise of “something awesome” wasn’t exaggeration. In a live product announcement, Facebook introduced two new features to its chat service – namely video call and group chat.
Instead of building a platform from scratch, Facebook’s hooked up with Skype, now a Microsoft company. Both had previously worked together to integrate Facebook into Skype’s client.
Unlike Skype’s regular service, video calls on Facebook won’t require any desktop client. All it takes is a plugin, which upon installing will enable video calls right in the browser, just like Gmail. Starting a video call will be a click away from the chat window.
The feature will be fully rolled out within the next few weeks. Early adopters can choose to manually enable it on here.
Early feedback from Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome can be summed in one sentence: “It works, but meh…” As shown in his screencast (embedded below), the video is kind of pixelated and echo suppression, if it exists, is not very effective.
My test using a 3G connection confirms the pixelation part. Several other samples on YouTube however show clearer images, but are choppy at best.
“We’re also launching multi-person chat, which is one of our most requested features,” Phillip Su, a Facebook engineer, wrote in a blog post. Group chat is indeed the most significant feature missing on Facebook chat, especially for people who’ve abandoned their desktop instant messenger for it.
Source: The Facebook Blog