Last month, we reported on Facebook Messenger Rooms, a new service that aims to compete directly with Zoom. In a post on Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Rooms is now available.
Uses in the United States, Mexico, and Canada can start using Messenger Rooms from today. Other areas around the world will receive the tool starting next week.
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.
Rooms provides more access than Zoom because users don't need to be registered to Facebook to enter into a group video call. This is similar to Microsoft's Skype Meet Now tool, which launched in December and the company has recently promoted as a Zoom alternative.
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.
When announcing Rooms last month, Zuckerberg said the tool will also have some social non-enterprise uses. For example, there is no need to schedule a time.
“WhatsApp and Messenger are already the most popular video-calling services globally, but for large groups most of the video services out there are designed for work, not social interactions. Messenger Rooms is group video chat designed for social interactions,” he said in a Facebook post.
In the current COVID-19 world, Zoom has become the go-to video communication platform. The company increased its userbase from 10 million to over 300 million in weeks. While Zoom's enterprise base as surged, it also found popularity with social users looking to communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's these users that Facebook says it is targeting with Messenger Rooms.