Facebook is adding Skype video calling to its social network, plus group chat functionality and redesigned Facebook chat features, as revealed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a press conference from the company’s Palo Alto headquarters.
Video chat will be available directly via Facebook’s user interface, and users can start videoconferences just by clicking a button on users’ profiles. Participants will automatically be prompted to download and install the Skype application the first time they activate these options, and after configuring the program, be able to participate in video calls.
New group chat functions will also allow users to add multiple parties to conversations, and speak simultaneously with them. Chat windows are being updated to provide enhanced friends list functionality that tracks whoever’s currently online, including a sidebar which highlights individuals that you converse with the most. These updates are intended to make dynamically starting group chats easier, and facilitate more interaction between individuals, with Zuckerberg stating that a majority of Facebook’s users currently take advantage of Facebook groups.
Services begin rolling out today, although video chat is presently unavailable on smartphones and mobile devices. The start of “launching season 2011” for the company, more new features and announcements are also planned shortly.
Despite Facebook’s having recently topped 750 million monthly active users, Zuckerberg claims that social networking will only continue to grow. Curiously, he says, the future will be less about simply connecting people and more about the apps, services and ways to enjoy and share multimedia content that will be built on top of these frameworks.