Don’t get us wrong, we love Zoom for the way it’s kept us connected with friends and family in isolation, but seven weeks in, we’re starting to feel the limitations of the platform — particularly the free version.
While Zoom’s secret touch-up filter has done well to help us look a little more put together, we’re still navigating clunky join passwords.
Now, Facebook is presenting a shiny new — and free — alternative with the launch of Messenger Rooms, a new video calling or virtual social hangout platform that’s available for everyone, even those without a Facebook account, to use.
Facebook already has video calling on Messenger, but Messenger Rooms is different for its awesome features.
Introducing Messenger Rooms, group video links that allow you to drop in and spend quality time with friends, family and people who share your interests. #MessengerRoomsMore info here: https://bit.ly/MessengerRooms
Posted by Messenger on Friday, 24 April 2020
Messenger Rooms allows up to 50 people to join your hangout, with no time limit. Users join a chat via a video chat link, which means even those without Facebook or the Messenger app can take part.
“Host celebrations, organise a book club or just hang out on the couch with friends. You don’t need to call someone and hope it’s a good time or check everyone’s calendar first. You can start and share rooms on Facebook through News Feed, Groups and Events, so it’s easy for people to drop by,” Facebook says in a release.
Once inside a room, users can also play around with a host of new filters and visual features. There are 360-degree virtual backgrounds that can transport you to a beautiful new location, like an interior-designed home or a private beach. Even better, the filters move with you on the screen, making them appear all the more real.
There are also 14 new lighting filters to help make your space look brighter and moodier, and some will even touch-up your face or give a natural glow. All of Messenger’s existing face filters can be used on the platform, too, like the cute bunny ears and weird alien, though more will also be rolling out to keep things fresh.
“We’re also adding new AR effects, so you can celebrate birthdays or go stay-at-home camping with your friends,” Facebook says.
In addition, Messenger Rooms promises a private experience with more comprehensive user controls. Facebook will also not view or listen to calls made on the platform.
if you enjoy Zoom virtual backgrounds, Facebook just raised the bar with 360-degree augmented reality backgrounds for its new Messenger Rooms (? @houseparty) https://t.co/9N2lx5WmQF pic.twitter.com/Vph7VoKHzZ
— Chris Fox (@thisisFoxx) April 24, 2020
The launch of Messenger Rooms comes during a time when the world is having to turn to virtual means of communication amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook hopes its new platform will help connect users and help facilitate their social needs.
“Our community is turning to Messenger and WhatsApp more than ever to stay connected. Between Messenger and WhatsApp, more than 700 million accounts participate in voice and video calls every day, and the number of calls has more than doubled in many countries since the pandemic began. In some cases, the number of group video calls has gone up by more than 10 times,” Facebook says.