Facebook has been leading the consumer communication realm with its Messenger and WhatsApp services. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Zoom has emerged from virtually nowhere as a direct competitor, at least in the video messaging realm. Facebook is now charting a course for Zoom with a new feature.
According to ALumia, the company is working on a feature called Messenger Rooms, which will add a new dynamic to the app’s existing group video calls. However, the current feature is limited to Facebook friends.
With Messenger Rooms, users can enter a group video call via a link. In other words, you won’t need a Facebook account to access the chat. When a link is clicked, it will open a guest session for the user through Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.
Hosts will need to have a Facebook account and will have control over the meeting. For example, hosts can turn off the video, select audio-only, or share the group call with other users. The report suggests Facebook is preparing to launch the new tool on Windows and Mac next week.
Importantly, Messenger Rooms provides more freedom than Zoom, which only allows registered users to access group video calls. And yes, this is a similar tool to Microsoft’s Skype Meet Now tool. Launched in December, Meet Now has similar attributes to Messenger Rooms, allowing people to enter chats through a link.
Despite Facebook and Microsoft pushing towards Zoom, their efforts are unlikely to harm the company. Indeed, Zoom announced this week it has seen its daily userbase increase from 10 million to over 300 million in two months. This meteoric rise has come despite numerous problems Zoom has faced.
As hundreds of millions of people are under lockdown and turning to digital solutions, most communication tools have saw a massive increase. There are likely enough users to go around at the moment. However, the post COVID-19 landscape will be interesting to observe.