Facebook Messenger Rooms arrives with compelling features to take on Zoom

(Image credit: Facebook)

Facebook is launching a new video chat app called Messenger Rooms that supports calls of up to 50 people without a time limit. The latest contender in the heated fight to dethrone Zoom, Messenger Rooms can be used by those who don't have a Facebook account.

In Messenger Rooms, you don't need to schedule a call with someone. Instead, you can share an open room on your Facebook News Feed, Groups and Event, and wait for people to join. Facebook will eventually add ways to create rooms on Instagram Direct, WhatsApp and Portal.

Along with the ability to join a room without an account, Facebook is making Messenger Rooms accessible by not requiring any additional downloads; You can join directly from your phone or laptop on Facebook or Messenger. 

Rooms will roll out to some (unspecified) countries this week and will be available globally in the coming weeks. 

Facebook Messenger Rooms filters and backgrounds

Facebook is bringing its AR tools to Messenger Rooms so you can change your background on the fly or add silly filters when the conversation grows stale. And AR effects will let you celebrate birthdays so get ready to blow out some digital candles. 

Additionally, Rooms users will have the option to add 360-degree backgrounds to their video so you can enjoy "beautiful and iconic spaces" from the safety of your home. Good lighting is crucial for improving video quality so Facebook is adding 14 camera filters that bring ambient lighting to your face and surroundings. 

Facebook Messenger Rooms privacy

Facebook has faced harsh criticism for its privacy policies in recent years. To avoid further flak, the company promises that videos in Rooms, while not end-to-end encrypted, are not viewed or listened to by Facebook (WhatsApp video calls are encrypted). 

There are also measures in place to prevent Zoombombing, or disruptions caused by uninvited guests. To that end, room creators can keep chats locked so only invited guests can join, and any participants can be kicked if they are misbehaving. You can also report a room name or submit feedback about a room if it's violating the Facebook Community Standards. 

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.