At the Facebook HQ today, Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of some exciting new features to the world’s most popular social network, Facebook. After spending the past six months working on most of these features, it looks like the summer holidays for Facebook users are going to get a lot better with the unveiling of Group Chat, an improved design for the chat buddy list, and video calling.
You might be thinking: but Facebook Groups already has this function, what’s so new about it? Well, with the new Facebook Group Chat function, users no longer have to start a new Group in order to initiate a Group Chat. All you have to do is click the invite a friend button in the chat window, type in the name of the friend that you want to join in the conversation and you’re set! If any of the chat participants aren’t available at the moment, they will be given a summary of the chat log at a later time, when it’s over. These groups can be easily formed and dissolved at will, which makes it different from the current implementation of Group Chat.
Currently it’s quite hard to know which one of your friends is online at the moment – all you have is a tiny collection of faces on the sidebar of your Facebook home page and the buddy list for selecting names to chat with. If you’re bad at recognizing thumbnails, the first method won’t work for you, and the second isn’t much better. Well, Facebook will be launching a new design that takes advantage of the full width of your web browser, and display by introducing a new sidebar that scales according to how large your display is. On this list, users will be able to access their most frequently contacted friends with just one click. Not to mention the larger thumbnail and name will be useful in helping users identify who they would like to chat with.
Lastly, Facebook has announced that it has partnered together with Skype to bring one of the most requested features over to Facebook: video calling. The new video calling feature for Facebook is basically a simplified process that will allow anybody with a Facebook account to start a video call easily. Users can initiate video calls from a friend’s profile or through the Facebook Chat program with just a few clicks. First time users will have to download a small plugin for it to work, but beyond that set up stage for the initial call, all they have to do is just click “answer call” in the future. No registration for Skype needed, no need to download an external program or perform any overly complicated setups. Just click and start video calling.
All features will be rolling out today for the desktop version of the website. No word on when Facebook video calling will hit mobile, but I’m sure it shouldn’t be too long to go. If your Facebook hasn’t been updated with the new features yet – fret not, it’s going to take awhile to update the accounts of 750 million users. Yes that’s right – Facebook has also hit a new high of 750 million users. 1 billion shouldn’t be too far away.