After Airtime launched to the public earlier this month, social network Facebook has been quick to react to the new video chat service by adding a more prominent Call button at the top of the Timeline page. Assuming that a friend is currently online, the new Call button will appear between the Message button and the Settings drop-down menu underneath the main Timeline cover photo at the top of the page. As Techcrunch noted, the Call button already appeared on the design of the old Facebook profile page, but it appears that the launch of Airtime has escalated Facebook’s plan for launching more Skype-support video chatting features on the social network.
Prior to the launch of the Call button on the Timeline page, the only way to initiate a video call was to open up a chat window on the right side of the Facebook layout and click on the name of someone that is currently online. At the top of the chat window pop-up, the Facebook user has to click the video camera icon to launch the chat interface and call their friend. If a user isn’t currently online or is using Facebook on a mobile smartphone, the video camera icon and the new Call button won’t appear in the Facebook user interface.
Nearly one year ago, Facebook debuted Skype integration in addition to a variety of changes to chat communication. Since then, the social network has been quiet on improvements of video chat. While Google offers group video chat with the Hangouts feature on Google+, Facebook video chat is still limited to one-on-one chat. While Skype did roll out Skype-to-Facebook calling during mid-November 2011, Facebook hasn’t enabled Facebook-to-Skype calling as of yet. According to the press conference held last year, Facebook was also supposed to be working on Facebook-to-phone calling for an additional fee per call, but no announcement has been made on the future launch of that feature.