Facebook Messenger takes on Skype with free video calling for iOS and Android

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 HE SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook has set its sights firmly on Skype and Google Hangouts with the launch of free video calling for Facebook Messenger. 

“Today, we’re introducing video calling in Messenger. Now you can have face-to-face conversations with your friends and the people you care about, via Messenger,” Facebook said in a blog post on Monday.

Facebook Messenger video calling works over LTE and WiFi, and is available now on iOS and Android. There’s no word yet as to whether the feature will be coming to Facebook’s BlackBerry and Windows Phone apps. 

Facebook notes that the service works cross-platform, allowing those with aniPhone 6, for example, to start a video call with a friend using a Galaxy S6.

The firm adds that the service is “fast, reliable and high quality”, and that Facebook is focusing on making video work well even on low-bandwidth mobile networks.

To get going with the service, simply tap the camcorder icon at the right hand side of a Messenger conversation. Once the call has started, you can switch back and forth from the front-facing and rear cameras, or turn the camera off entirely. 

Facebook explains: “You can quickly start a video call from any conversation with just one tap. If you’re messaging with someone and realise that words just aren’t enough, you can simply choose the video icon in the top right corner of the screen and start a video call right from within an existing Messenger conversation.”

Facebook launched a standalone web version of Messenger earlier this month which users can access by heading to Messenger.com. This also supports Facebook’s new video calling service, which will open in a new interface in a similar way to Google Hangouts. 

Facebook also recently revealed Messenger Platform and Messenger Business, which will allow developers and businesses to integrate with the chat service, meaning that apps and brands will soon invade Messenger. 

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