Facebook today announced a dedicated segment of its popular iOS and Android app will find a renewed focus on both live and pre-recorded videos, taking the place of the Messenger button which sent users to that separate private messaging app. The social network's main focus in the new hub will be on starting up your own live videos, or joining in on another, but Facebook hopes the new feature makes it easier to find videos in general rather than just scrolling across them in a feed, which has been the case in the past.
The company launched Facebook Live late last summer through its Mentions app, only to a handful of celebrities, and is now ready to begin a widespread rollout in the proper Facebook app. Facebook has introduced a few new features in the launch, as well, including the ability to launch a live video within a specific Facebook Group or Event.
"Live in Groups" lets users begin a live video that will only notify the people in a specific group, "so you can go live in your family group, or share a workout plan in a fitness group." Alternatively, "Live in Events" means those part of an RSVP event can get exclusive live video from a performer ahead of the scheduled event, or a user could share video from a party to those who couldn't make it. The company is also introducing a new metric analyzing feature, aimed at publishers and media companies, that lets broadcasters parse the fluctuating statistics of viewers during a video with various charts and graphs.
With the new update, Facebook will accommodate the growing popularity of interactive comments and filters into its live videos, much like Periscope and Snapchat. When someone begins a live video, viewers can use the company's six new "Reactions," and post written comments, to show how they feel about a video, which will pop up and disappear Periscope-style at the bottom of the video. The initial rollout will introduce five "Live Filters," but future updates will implement the ability to doodle on your video in real-time, as well.
All of these video features will be found in the new hub on the central tab at the bottom of the Facebook app, where users will be able to invite friends to live videos, start their own broadcast, and browse video content posted by friends and pages they follow. The social network is going one step further on its desktop experience, with a new Facebook Live Map that gives an overall visual summation of Facebook Live broadcasts happening live around the world. The live video feature will be available in more than 60 countries after its first rollout.
No specifics were given regarding the size of the population of Facebook users who might see the update beginning today, but the company mentioned that the Live Video discovery tab will be available to all users on iOS and Android "over the coming weeks."