Facebook has officially announced that it is going to begin offering a video chat feature through Skype to its 750 million users. The service will not require users to download Skype, but will run as a plug-in through Facebook. In addition to video chat capability, the company has also announced a new group chatting feature, as well as a redesign of its chat function.
According to the announcement on Facebook's official blog, "Video chat has been around for years now, but it's still not an everyday activity for most people. Sometimes it's too difficult to set up, or the friends you want to talk to are on different services. So a few months ago, we started working with Skype to bring video calling to Facebook. We built it right into chat, so all your conversations start from the same place. To call your friend, just click the video call button at the top of your chat window." Facebook says the feature will only one-to-one video chat at this time.
The social media network's new chat design will include a sidebar that lists the people you message most, making it easier to find friends and start a conversation. The sidebar automatically adjusts with the size of your browser window, and appears when the window is wide enough.
The new group chat feature will allow users to chat with multiple users in one conversation. To add friends to a conversation, you can click the Add Friends to Chat button.
"This is symbolic of the way we are going to be doing these types of things," Facebook CEO Mark Zukerberg said during a press conference for the announcement. " One of the coolest things is the way that this works. Users will be able to send friends a video chat request, which will send users a download prompt for the skype plug-in. The download is expected to take 20 seconds, and allow users to video chat immediately.
The new video chat, group chat, and chat window design should be rolling out to users in the next few weeks.