Facebook has announced the launch of a new group calling feature, which would allow users to simultaneously call and speak with up to 50 others over the internet. The feature will be rolled out simultaneously to both iOS and Android users for free.
According to Messenger chief David Marcus, the feature should be made available across the world in the coming 24 hours. However, the social media giant is yet to offer users a video calling feature for groups, although the feature is available to those desiring to have one-to-one video conversations.
A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch: "There are situations where typing isn't enough and when people prefer talking to one another."
Once the update has been rolled out and activated on smartphones, users will be able to notice a phone icon on their group chats, which when tapped will automatically launch a group call. If needed, more participants can be added to the group call. However, there is a limit of 50 participants for each group call.
In case a user misses the initial call, he/she can simply tap the phone icon to join in on the conversation, provided the call is still in progress. The feature also allows users to keep a track of all other participants and to separately ping anyone who has been left out or is yet to join in.
The new feature indicates Facebook's intention of pushing forward Messenger from a simple messaging platform to a workable replacement to users' phones. One of the advantages of calling via Messenger is the added privacy it affords users, in that users are not required to divulge their private phone numbers and are even provided with simple features to block unwanted callers.
Facebook has, over the past year, introduced various new features to Messenger like multiple logins on a single device and Photo Magic. However, the platform is yet to be considered as a serious contender to Skype and Google Hangouts, both of which dominate the video calling platform.