This coronavirus disease pandemic has exponentially increased the number of Zoom users globally. With some companies imposing work-from-home job set up, the demand of online video conferences is, unsurprisingly, overwhelming. With people confined to their homes, apps like Zoom, allowed us to stay in touch became central to our day-to-day lives. According to app’s CEO Eric Yuan, daily active users jumped from 10 million to over 200 million in 3 months.
For this reason, Facebook, as one of the most globally popular social media sites, upgraded their video chat service to keep up with Zoom’s popularity nowadays. Yesterday, April 24, they unveiled a new video chat service with virtual “rooms” where people can pop in to visit friends, aiming active Zoom users during the pandemic.
Facebook Messenger Rooms: More ‘personal’
Through the Facebook Messenger application, users will be able to start video call sessions that as many as 50 friends can join and linger in as long as they wish, even if they don’t have Facebook accounts. Unlike Zoom, “Messenger Rooms” is tailored for more ‘personal’ socialization with friends and family whether it be birthdays, happy hours, book clubs or parent groups.
“This is designed to be more serendipitous and spontaneous,” chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said while briefing AFP on Rooms.
“I just keep a window open on my computer or phone and people who I normally wouldn’t go out of my way to call just sort of drop by.”
“I feel like we are missing that in our lives right now,” he added.
In fact, Facebook users will be able to create virtual rooms and decide who to invite to join, according to Zuckerberg.
“I could be hanging out on a couch on the weekend and send out an invite to all my friends to come to a ‘hanging-out-on-the-couch room,'” Zuckerberg said.
“People can just send a link to their grandmother or whomever. You can tap on the link from anywhere and if you don’t have the app it will open in your browser,” Zuckerberg added.
Facebook said it built in defenses to prevent unwanted guests from entering virtual rooms.
“There are tools to kick people out easily; lock rooms, or close them if things are going badly,” Zuckerberg said.
Moreover, fun features include augmented-reality effects such as bunny ears and aliens, along with immersive fake backgrounds.