Facebook Launches App With Free Unlimited Group Video Calls in Lockdown Days

Published April 5th, 2020 - 08:57 GMT
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Highlights
The move comes as people around the world are having to work from home, home-school their kids, and not go outside to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Social media giant Facebook has launched a desktop version of its Messenger app for Windows and Mac with free unlimited group video calls.

It replicates some of the features of popular video conferencing service Zoom  - already available on desktop - which is in the midst of a security and privacy crisis.

The new desktop Facebook Messenger app is similar to the mobile version which launched for iOS and Android in 2011, with video calls being added in 2016.

Facebook says it will offer group video calls on a larger screen to help people stay in touch with family and friends, workout together, or host a virtual happy hour.

The move comes as people around the world are having to work from home, home-school their kids, and not go outside to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

As a result, a number of video call and conferencing apps have risen in popularity - from Microsoft Teams for shared working to Zoom and Houseparty for group video. 

Zoom has been plagued by a string of privacy and security issues that led the company to announce there would be no new features while it dealt with them.

Facebook said: 'Now more than ever, people are using technology to stay in touch with the people they care about, even when physically apart. 

'Over the past month, we saw more than a 100 per cent increase in people using their desktop browser for audio and video calling on Messenger.'

It said the app version will offer unlimited free group video calls and a better experience than just using the browser.

The company says it is easier to connect with the new app and 'you don't need to know someone's email or phone number since all your Facebook friends have Messenger'.

All chats will be synced across mobile and desktop versions of the Messenger app.

'We hope the Messenger desktop app will make it a little bit easier for people to stay in touch with friends and loved ones during this time. Stay home, but stay connected,' Facebook said in a blog post.  

With people staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been increased interest in video chat, screen sharing and gaming platforms.

However, this has brought to light a range of security and privacy flaws with these apps as they're used by more people. 

Zoom says it will take the next 90 days to dedicate the resources it needs to identify, address and fix the flurry of security issues. 

'We are also committed to being transparent throughout this process. We want to do what it takes to maintain your trust,' said CEO Eric S Yuan. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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