One of Facebook Messenger’s most highly requested features — group video calling — is finally rolling out now via an update to the app.
Up to six people can video call at the same time, but Facebook doesn’t want to force everyone in a group to participate. As Product Manager Andrew Song told Digital Trends, not everyone is always “video-call ready.”
“We designed this experience with mobile phones in mind,” Song said. “And we were trying to figure out how we can create this party or fun atmosphere with a set of people. Being able to get in the same space and have that energy that you would if you were in the same physical space is what this is really for.”
If the video call limit has filled up or if you’re at work and can’t join in, you can still see what’s going on and respond with messages or your voice. The company says up to 50 people can listen in a group call and “chime in via voice” or continue to send messages as well.
You’ll have to create a group or be in an existing one to be able to tap on the group video call icon — each person can join in when they’re ready with a tap, and you can ring certain people or the whole group.
The Messenger team recently released an update that improved the camera in the app and introduced 3D effects, stickers, and masks that can be added to photos and videos — similar to Snapchat. These 3D effects can be used in real time during video calls as well — it’s available for iOS at launch, and it’s coming soon to Android.
Song says the team is focusing on its next billion users, and believes that recently introduced features like Instant Games, and Instant Video are key to attracting a new audience while maintaining its current user base.