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Facebook Messenger Levels Up With Skype Through New Desktop Group Voice Calling

Travelers Today       By    Elyssa Deluyas

Updated: Dec 21, 2016 07:05 PM EST

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facebook, Messenger, Skype, Houseparty, Google Hangouts

People might actually stop asking about others' Skype name thanks to a test of new Facebook group audio calling on desktop. Facebook unveiled group voice calls on its mobile Messenger app in April, and now it's working out some things before it bring out the feature to the home and office. It could definitely be useful as an alternative for traditional conference calls.

According to Tech Crunch, those with a phone icon on their group chats can access the new feature. Users just need to hit the icon to instantly invite the members to join the call. The group-calling feature also allows users to dial up to 50 friends concurrently over the internet. To clarify, this is not a video-chatting feature, as Messenger still maintains that feature to one-on-one conversations.

Facebook first started offering audio calling on desktop back in 2013, but now it's making VoIP more social. Group chat has been a trend lately thanks to the rise of Houseparty, a place where teens "livechill".

Meanwhile, The Verge says that Messenger is fast becoming one of Facebook's most successful products ever. It has more than 900 million monthly active users. To maximize on its huge audience, the company has been adding new features every now and then. Those include a Venmo-like payment feature last year, fun mini games like basketball and chess, and the current addition of artificial intelligence-powered bots.

All of the said functions are designed to retain people and keep them coming back to Messenger for more than just chatting with friends over text, and they can be thought of as standalone apps living inside the social network's ecosystem. With the new group-calling, Messenger is even more powerful, yet it still can't compete yet with Google Hangouts or Skype for video calls. It's only a matter of time before Facebook adds that capability to be leveled among other rivals.

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