LIVE: Facebook Launches Video Chat And More!

Facebook has announced the much-anticipated video chat, along with chatting in groups, both made possible through integration with Skype. Beta versions of these products are available on the site already, so if you’ve had a chance to try them out, we’d love to see your opinions in the comments section.

The infographic above succinctly sums up today’s announcement, which includes the much-anticipated integration with Skype for video calling and group chat.

“Today marks the beginning of what we call ‘launching season,’” Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in his opening remarks at the press conference. He confirmed that the social network has surpassed 750 million monthly active users. And over half of them actively use groups.

Facebook’s overall growth is moving at an exponential pace, he said. Users share several billion items a day on the site, and people are sharing online content twice as much today as they did a year ago, and that has been the growth rate for the last several years.

The demonstration of Facebook’s video calling makes it look simple; a call button appears on profile pages and in chat panels. It takes about 30 seconds to fire up the initial connection and then the conversation becomes real time.

Apparently, half of Skype’s traffic involves video calls, says the telephony company’s Chief Executive Officer Tony Bates; he anticipates that he’ll be able to launch paid services in the future based on the expansion possibilities that Facebook can offer.

Skype’s Vice President and General Manager for Consumer, Neil Stevens, succinctly sums up where you need to go to get in on the new products, in a post on the company’s blog:

To get started connecting face-to-face using Facebook video calling, powered by Skype, it’s quick and easy. Just ensure your Facebook chat status is set to “online” and you are ready to go! You can initiate a Facebook video call right from the Chat box or you can click on your friend’s Profile and if they are online, a “Call” button will appear at the top right of their Profile page. If your friend does not answer, you can leave them a video message. Your recorded video message will be waiting in your friend’s Inbox the next time they check their Messages.

Skype’s CEO previously recorded an explanation of how Facebook video calling works with the Skype integration, so we’ve embedded a copy of his footage below.

Facebook spokespeople have summed up this morning’s announcement in the following email timestamped 11:04 am PST:

Today Facebook introduced several updates to messages: video calling, group chat, and a new chat design.

Video Calling: Together with Skype, you can now video call your friends on Facebook for simple real-time face to face conversations

Group Chat: One of our most requested features is the ability to chat with multiple people at once. Now you can have conversations with more than one person on the fly for quick group discussion.

New Chat Design: The new chat design people can see a sidebar that shows the friends they message most, whether on or offline. Simply click on a friend to start chatting or send a message.

In a new blog post, Facebook engineer Philip Su explains the new features here

Additional information can also be found at: www.facebook.com/videocalling

- Screenshots:

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