Face­book takes aim at Zoom with video chat up­grade

Kuwait Times - - Business -

SAN FRAN­CISCO: Face­book on Fri­day un­veiled a new video chat ser­vice with vir­tual “rooms” where peo­ple can pop in to visit friends, aim­ing at users turn­ing to the pop­u­lar Zoom plat­form dur­ing the pan­demic. Through the Face­book Mes­sen­ger ap­pli­ca­tion, users will be able to start video call ses­sions that as many as 50 friends can join and linger in as long as they wish, even if they don’t have Face­book ac­counts.

Un­like work video con­fer­enc­ing plat­forms such as Zoom, “Mes­sen­ger Rooms” is tai­lored for so­cial­iz­ing with friends and fam­ily whether it be birth­days, happy hours, book clubs or par­ent groups.

“This is de­signed to be more serendip­i­tous and spon­ta­neous,” chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Zucker­berg said while brief­ing AFP on Rooms. “I just keep a win­dow open on my com­puter or phone and peo­ple who I nor­mally wouldn’t go out of my way to call just sort of drop by.” “I feel like we are miss­ing that in our lives right now,” he added. The launch comes amid surg­ing use of Zoom, which was de­signed as a busi­ness video plat­form, and other on­line chat ser­vices.

Face­book users will be able to cre­ate vir­tual rooms and de­cide who to in­vite to join, ac­cord­ing to Zucker­berg. “I could be hang­ing out on a couch on the week­end and send out an in­vite to all my friends to come to a ‘hang­ing-out-on-the-couch room,’” Zucker­berg said. Fun fea­tures in­clude aug­ment­e­dreal­ity ef­fects such as bunny ears and aliens, along with im­mer­sive fake back­grounds.

Ev­ery­one in­vited

In an un­usual step, peo­ple don’t need Face­book ac­counts or apps to visit Mes­sen­ger Rooms. “Peo­ple can just send a link to their grand­mother or

whomever,” Zucker­berg said. “You can tap on the link from any­where and if you don’t have the app it will open in your browser.”

Face­book said it built in de­fenses to pre­vent un­wanted guests from en­ter­ing vir­tual rooms.

“There are tools to kick peo­ple out eas­ily; lock rooms, or close them if things are go­ing badly,” Zucker­berg said. In the back­ground, Face­book will make a pri­or­ity of get­ting word of rooms to friends users show in­ter­est in en­gag­ing. Face­book does not view or lis­ten to calls, and peo­ple who cre­ate rooms con­trol who gets in, ac­cord­ing to Mes­sen­ger vice pres­i­dent Stan Chud­novsky.

Mes­sen­ger Rooms was ex­pected to be avail­able to Face­book’s nearly 2.5 bil­lion users around the work in com­ing weeks. Use of video calls and con­fer­enc­ing has rock­eted as peo­ple work, learn, and so­cial­ize re­motely while stay­ing home to avoid the coro­n­avirus.

Many peo­ple have turned to Zoom, which has scram­bled to stem se­cu­rity prob­lems such as data hack­ing and ha­rass­ment by in­di­vid­u­als who crash ses­sions in what is re­ferred to as “Zoom­bomb­ing.”

Video “pres­ence” ser­vices from Face­book, Google, Mi­crosoft and other tech­nol­ogy firms have been ramp­ing up ca­pa­bil­i­ties and fea­tures to be the pre­ferred plat­form. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.