When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg teased the public with the promise of an upcoming "awesome" update to the social network during his visit to Seattle last week, there was little doubt that he was alluding to a new video chat feature. Sure enough, Facebook announced a partnership with Skype for that very purpose, the praise for which Zuck upgraded during the actual announcement — calling it “super awesome.”
Developed in Facebook’s Seattle engineering office, the new video chat feature aims to give its users a one-click method of talking via video with other users on the social network.
The free feature was announced via webcast from Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley on Wednesday morning. Philip Su, a Facebook software engineer based in the Seattle office offered a live demo of the feature by making a video call to the team back at the company’s engineering office across from Seattle's famed Pike Place Market.
"Video chat has been around for years now, but it's still not an everyday activity for most people," Su said in a post. "Sometimes it's too difficult to set up, or the friends you want to talk to are on different services. So a few months ago, we started working with Skype to bring video calling to Facebook. We built it right into chat, so all your conversations start from the same place. To call your friend, just click the video call button at the top of your chat window."
The video calling feature will be built into Facebook for users over the next few weeks, but users looking to start today can do so via the software update download.
"For those of us who have been working on this, it's particularly exciting to bring video calling to over 750 million people," he said. "We're making this available in over 70 different languages, so friends can stay in touch all over the world."
Facebook also unveiled a new group text chat feature that will let users quickly communicate with multiple people simultaneously.