Facebook has revealed its “awesome” new feature and the rumors were spot on, it was indeed video calling powered by Skype. Facebook users around the world will now be able to have video conversations with each other, via the Skype network, but without having to sign up for Skype or install the client, everything happens on Facebook.
“Video chat has been around for years now, but it’s still not an everyday activity for most people,” Philip Su, a Facebook engineer who worked on the video chat feature, explained.
“Sometimes it’s too difficult to set up, or the friends you want to talk to are on different services,” he said.
“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,” he announced.
The video chat feature will be rolling out to everyone in the next few weeks, Facebook is known for its slow roll-outs, a necessity perhaps for a service with 750 million users.
But if you want to start chatting right away, you can check out this dedicated page and enable the feature for your account ahead of the official roll-out.
Video calling is built into the existing chat feature, which also got a small revamp, all you have to do is click the small camera icon in the chat window to start a video call.
Alternatively, you can start a conversation from a friend’s profile page by hitting the Call button next to Message and Poke.
The video chat feature is powered by Skype, but does not require a Skype account. In fact, all calls are anonymous since the Facebook IDs are encrypted within the Skype network.
Users need to install a plugin to use the video chat feature, but they don’t need to have Skype installed. The plugin depends on the browser and operating system used. Facebook video calling works with Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari on Windows or Mac OS X.
Video calls have huge potential on Facebook and will likely be a very popular feature, if only because there are 750 million people on the site. That said, there is one big missing feature, no support for group video chat, a touted feature of the recently launched Google+ Hangouts. via Softpedia