As more social media users began using their smartphones to access friends and acquaintances, Facebook’s Messenger feature became a convenient hybrid between desktop instant messaging and cell phone texting features, making digital conversations easier and faster.
The social media giant has recently been focusing on its Messenger app as an entity separate from the original Facebook app, and the latest development with the Messenger app makes that separation even more apparent: Facebook has just announced that Messenger will now have a video calling feature.
Consumers can already access free video calling services on similar communication platforms, including Google Hangouts, iOS FaceTime, and — as TechCrunch labels it — “clunky Skype.”
These services are already widely available on mobile devices, and some even include group video chat features. However, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t seem dismayed by Facebook’s comparatively late start; Messenger had already allowed users to make regular phone calls (without the video feature) to their friends. Forbes states that Messenger already accounts for 10% of all mobile VoIP phone calls globally.
Users will be able to make slight changes to adjust video quality, and turning off the video feature will allow for higher quality audio-only calls. One interesting feature that Messenger has, Business Standard notes, is that one person can switch to audio-only in order to increase the video quality of the other person on the call.
“The adoption of VOIP has been rapidly rising over the past few years for organizations of all sizes, and it makes sense,” explained Doug Sirek, Director of Technology for Kidwell. “It allows the organization to use a common frame work (their network) to unify their communications into a single platform.”
While Facebook Messenger certainly won’t compete with state-of-the-art VoIP phone systems used in the professional world, and although it seems unlikely that text-savvy Millennials will be interested in video chatting with each other all day, this feature does show an important trend in the digital communications world: VoIP systems are quickly becoming essential for everyday communication, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
“I think what we’re seeing within social networking mirrors that mind, where social networking is seen more of a communication platform instead of an alternative to email/telephone,” said Sirek.