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Facebook's New "Awesome" Features: Skype Video Calling, Group Chats, Better Design

Ankit Tyagi |
July 6, 2011 | 11:05 a.m. PDT

Associate Tech Editor

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Facebook announced three major updates, Wednesday, to their integrated chat system--the largest of which was the Skype-powered video calling feature. Along with Skype integration, Facebook added a group chat feature with an overhaul to the friends list interface.

Video calling is now built right into chat; Simply press a button in a chat window to initiate a video call. Users will have to download some software to run the video call, but Facebook says it's a simple small 20-30 second download that will have people video calling immediately.

Skype video calling will be free for users calling from computer to computer, but calls made to mobile or landlines will require a fee.  

Based on the demos, video chatting will be very similar to what users have seen with Skype, which is to be expected. Facebook designed the integration to be as seamlessly as possible without any major changes to the current chat system. As of now, there are no group video chat features.

With the release of the new "Groups" feature last year, the ability to initiate group chat was integrated into Facebook, but group chats could not be created "ad-hoc". Now, with the group chat update, users are able to create a group chat by adding friends to a chat window. The user interface for this feature will remainly basically unchanged. 

The chat feature will also see a slight revamp. Chatting will involve a "friends list" that will sit as a right-hand sidebar organized by who the user messages the most. The buddy list sidebar will auto resize and appear when the window is wide enough depending on the user's preferred browser window size.

Facebook says the features will be rolled out to users starting Wednesday. 


Read more about these updates here.

Skype CEO, Tony Bates talks about new Skype innovations. 


Reach Ankit Tyagi here.

Follow him on Twitter @ankittya.



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