In yet another deeper push into video, Facebook today is rolling out a new update to its Messenger app [Direct Link] that adds a new live video button into every chat window. When used, Facebook users will begin live streaming in a small pop-up window with sound turned off by default, allowing them to keep texting with the person on the other end while sharing visual details of their location that might be easier through video rather than simple text.
Facebook is calling the new feature "Instant Video," and says it represents "a reflection of the ubiquity of video" that's expected in most messaging apps nowadays. Rather than a full-on video chatting experience, the social network hopes for Instant Video to be a companion to traditional texting.
Instant Video is a reflection of the ubiquity of video — we simply expect to have that ability in real-time, all the time. With Instant Video, you can bring your conversations to life in the most authentic way — seamlessly and instantly. It’s perfect for sharing quick moments with friends who aren’t right by your side or making your conversations richer by seeing each other face-to-face when you are messaging.
Sometimes you want to ask a friend’s opinion on a pair of shoes you want to buy, weigh in on what ice cream flavor they should bring home, or just want to see your BFF’s reaction to your witty message when you’re in a place where you can’t actually talk live.
To start an Instant Video conversation, there will be a new video icon in the top right corner of each Messenger conversation. This will bring up the live stream of real-time video, and the app supports both the front-facing and rear-facing cameras of a smartphone. On the other side of the conversation, a friend can continue watching the live stream and turn on audio, or respond with a stream of their own camera for you to see.
Facebook sees the new update as another example of its attempt "to solve real problems for real people." Over the past few weeks, the company has tested autoplay videos with sound in its iOS app, launched a video-focused app for teenagers, and began a slow implementation of MSQRD in select countries. Although Instant Video is only for Messenger, it'll have a large install base to test it out since the separate instant messaging app celebrated a milestone of one billion monthly active users over the summer.
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Plus, Messenger is also web based which is an enormous advantage. I can chat in my browser during work. Doubt Apple will make their Messages app do that, they always seem so behind with stuff like this.