Today, Facebook announced a group-calling feature for its Messenger app, letting you dial up to 50 friends concurrently over the internet. The feature is coming to iOS and Android over the next 24 hours, according to Messenger chief David Marcus, and it should show up as a phone icon in group chats. From there, you can add new participants to the call. To be clear, this isn't a video-chatting feature, as Messenger still restricts that feature to one-on-one conversations.
Messenger, with more than 900 million monthly active users, is fast becoming one of Facebook's most successful products ever. To capitalize on its huge audience, the company has been adding new features left and right. Those include a Venmo-like payment feature last year, fun mini games like basketball and chess, and the recent addition of artificial intelligence-powered bots.
Facebook wants Messenger to replace other mobile apps
All of these functions are designed to keep people coming back to Messenger for more than just chatting with friends over text, and they can be thought of as standalone apps living inside the social network's ecosystem. With group calling, Messenger is even more powerful, yet it still can't yet compete with Google Hangouts or Skype for video calls. It's only a matter of time before Facebook adds that capability to level the field even further.