Facebook adds video calling service to Messenger Lite app

Facebook Messenger Lite, the low-data version of Facebook Messenger that came to the United States last February, is getting video chat functionality in an upcoming update.

The app first debuted as a way for those with weak data connections — especially people in developing nations — to still experience Messenger. The app then made its way to the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, and Ireland, available on Android phones from the Google Play Store. Now, Facebook is expanding Messenger Lite to also include access to video chats.

Facebook says that video calls are subject to growing popularity on the normal Facebook Messenger app, with 17 billion video chats being undertaken throughout the whole of 2017 — twice the number seen in 2016. Face-to-face video calls are rapidly being seen as the next best thing to physically “being there”, whether that’s for birthday wishes, catching up, or just having a chat. Facebook is clearly hoping that users in developing markets and those with low data allowances will stick with Facebook’s services no matter their need, especially since competitors like Google’s Duo calling app are hoping to snag the market.

Emerging markets are becoming an increasingly important space for tech companies and their services, with companies like Google launching initiatives like Android Go that specifically target those areas, so it’s no wonder Facebook is also targeting countries that are not quite as advanced when it comes to connectivity and hardware. While users are still able to “quickly and easily send texts, photos, and links to anyone using Messenger or Messenger Lite,” the new app takes up much less space on a smartphone, and works with much weaker network conditions. “Messenger Lite was built to give people a great Messenger experience, no matter what technology they use or have access to,” Facebook engineering manager Tom Mulcahy wrote in the blog post announcing the app.

Super-lightweight at just under 10MB — 95 percent smaller than the full version of the app — Facebook Lite is both quick to install and start up. Messenger Lite first launched in five countries in October 2016, before debuting in many other countries around the globe in April 2017.

Updated on March 7: We’ve included the news that users can expect video calls on their Messenger Lite apps.

Mobile

Rekindled yet again, Nokia’s next-gen phones offer more than just nostalgia

HMD Global, a startup that designs and builds Nokia Android smartphones, wants to put the Nokia brand name back “where it belongs.” It helps that it’s made up of ex-Nokia employees. We go behind the scenes to see how HMD formed.
Mobile

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.
Mobile

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.
Mobile

Benchmark scores surface for Google's midrange Pixel 3 XL Lite

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.
Wearables

Lack of regulation means wearables aren’t held accountable for health claims

As fitness trackers become more like health monitors, some physicians are concerned they can lead to over-diagnosis of non-existent problems. It’s already happening with wearable baby monitors.
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Mobile

Razer’s Wireless Charger will turn your desk into gamer heaven

The Razer Wireless Charger adds colorful flair to your desk or bedside table. It works with any phone that supports Qi wireless charging -- with some quirks -- but is it worth the high price tag? We take a look.
Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile is dead: Switch to iOS or Android, Microsoft says

A Microsoft support page detailed the company's plans to end support for Windows 10 Mobile in less than a year. Users with devices powered by the platform are suggested to switch to iOS or Android devices.
Mobile

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!
Gaming

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Wearables

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.