Facebook Announces Skype Video Chat Feature... This is the world's easiest one-click way to chat over video, Facebook engineer Philip Su said at the news conference here. The Seattle programmer was Facebook's only full-time engineer working on its development along with Skype, a Facebook spokeswoman said
Facebook is encouraging its members to talk face to face -- over the computer.
The social networking giant introduced a video-calling feature on Wednesday in partnership with Skype, the popular Internet video-chat provider.
The product comes a week after Google launched a competing social network, called Google+, which also includes a video-chatting program.
Facebook's version will show up on the site as a "call" button at the top of users' profile pages. By clicking that or finding someone in a new "buddy list" bar on the right-hand side, Facebook users can talk to each other as long as they have webcams. The company began turning that service on for millions of users on Wednesday and will add it to more accounts over time, spokespeople said.
This is "the world's easiest one-click way" to chat over video, Facebook engineer Philip Su said at the news conference here. The Seattle programmer was Facebook's only full-time engineer working on its development along with Skype, a Facebook spokeswoman said.
Facebook on Wednesday also introduced a change to its instant-messaging service, which now allows people to create on-the-fly group conversations.
"This is their response to Google+ right now," said Ray Valdes, an Internet analyst at Gartner Research. "I think it's a little bit of catchup in terms of features."
Google bills its new network as a better way to communicate certain messages to subsections of friends. Google+ also has drawn praise for its ability, with a service called Hangouts, to let users video chat with several friends at a time.
Facebook's new video feature does not allow for group chats. However, Skype CEO Tony Bates noted that the union with Facebook leaves an opening to add new features later, such as group calling or paid features like calling to landlines.
What Facebook does have, however, is 750 million people actively using its service, said Mark Zuckerberg, the company's CEO. Google+ is nary a week old and only available to people who managed to procure an invite from a member of the media or a tech-savvy friend.
Zuckerberg took subtle jabs Wednesday at the new Google network, saying Facebook provides the best way for people to organize their friends into groups -- with minimal effort.
"If you think about it, it makes it so that your networking community can do the work of organizing your communities for you," Zuckerberg said of Facebook's grouping features. "You don't have to curate."
Facebook Announces Skype Video Chat Feature