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Facebook Announces Video Calls and Updated Chat (UPDATED)

Tony Bates and Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook team today announced that video calls and an updated chat are coming to the social network.  All of this is modeled under the idea of making communication as easy as possible between users, and to that end they felt a redesign of the cumbersome chat and adding video were the ways to go.

Skype CEO Tony Bates joined Mr. Zuckerberg to discuss the two companies working together to allow Facebook users will now be able to easily initiate video calls between each other even if they have not installed the software before the person calls them.  The software is not a huge download, and should download in 30 seconds or less on a broadband connection.  The notifications of calls will also be unobtrusive so it won’t take you out of any app you may be in, and it will also not activate your webcam until you hit the button to accept the call, so no need to worry about sudden intrusions into your personal space.  At this time there is no mobile integration for the new product, so those of you hoping to get your chat on via a tablet, you’re currently out of luck.

While cool, but possibly not as exciting, group chat is getting an overhaul to be more user friendly.  A new button will allow you to easily add people to an existing chat so that you can easily pull friends in when they come online.

It isn’t entirely clear what Skype gets ut of this deal as their branding does not appear to be prominent in the new product, and there doesn’t appear to be any way for them to collect revenue from it.  Obviously there is something to be gained from this for the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) company, but it isn’t immediately apparent.

Both products launch today and should be available on your accounts this afternoon.

What do you think?  Will you give Facebook video calling a try?

UPDATE #1: SiliconAngle was able to get an answer from Neil Stephen, Skype Product Manager that while Skype-to-Facebook calls was not yet available, he confirmed that this integration is on it’s way.

UPDATE #2: The Skype logo does appear briefly while the call is being initiated.

Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...