Facebook has now launched its own video conferencing app and has knighted it as the “Messenger Rooms” to go serve its large base of faithful users that also comprise of Instagram and WhatsApp. While it might sound like its new and next big gig to the uninitiated, it is a being labeled as a marriage between Zoom and Houseparty.
Not only does Messenger Rooms have Zoom’s unique features, it has also stepped it up by evading the footsteps that led Zoom straight into controversy. We do know now whose empire is really at stake.
What is Messenger Rooms?
Messenger Rooms is a tool to start and share virtual meetings with upto 50 people. Hosts can either lock their virtual rooms or keep it open to allow friends to join a meeting whenever they want. The rooms also allow hosts to remove participants in case of illicit behavior and also report such instances.
A plus point which will attract many Zoom users to Messenger Rooms is that there is no time limit for your video conferences. Facebook’s blog post that announced the release of Messenger Rooms said that “spending time with each other should be spontaneous, not strained.”
Here, it spitefully takes a dig at Zoom’s 40 minute time constraint that was meant for its free users and says, well, their users deserve time, a lot of it.
How Rooms work?
You can create and share a room on Facebook through Groups, News Feed and Events. After creating a room, you must invite users to join the room, who can join the room even without a Facebook account.
You can then choose to lock the room or keep it open, in which case, anyone with the link will be able to join. If your friends have created rooms that are open to you, you will find them on the top of your own News Feed.
Facebook asserts that Messenger Rooms is not end-to-end encrypted as it is difficult to do so with video chats with multiple users. It claims however that the content shared through Rooms is encrypted which will make it difficult for hackers to access the shared link.
This is another shot at Zoom’s privacy blunder when the app had once falsely claimed that the content shared therein was end-to-end encrypted. Let’s hope that Rooms’ claims are not received as an open challenge that will hurl it off the driver’s seat of the approaching quarantine bandwagon before it can get on it.
How to get Messenger Rooms?
Facebook doesn’t require invitees to have a Facebook account or to download an additional app to participate in Messenger Rooms. The only requirement to access the room is the link shared by the host.
If you have to create a room however, you must do it through Facebook Groups, News Feed, or Events. Messenger Rooms will go live this week and based on the country you live in, it will take a couple of weeks before it reaches you.
How many people can use Messenger Rooms?
Messenger Rooms allows multiple users to chat at a time. Upto 50 participants can video chat together in Rooms which is less than Zoom’s 100 people cap, but still more than Facetime’s 32 people cap.
People can access Messenger Rooms through their phones or computers and make unlimited video calls to their friends and families.
How is Rooms a Zoom rip-off?
The launch of Messenger Rooms has come at a time when the use of the Zoom app is surging. This has led to claims that it is an exact copy of the latter. Messenger Rooms appears to be an offshoot of Zoom because of the exact replication of certain Zoom features like the video chat made accessible via a shareable link and its multiple participant features.
It has also replaced Zoom’s “Touch Up My Appearance” feature with its own 14 ambient lighting feature that does the deed. Its 360-degree background feature is definitely more catchy than Zoom’s preloaded virtual backgrounds.
Facebook has further carefully screened Zoom’s mistakes in the field and has made improvisations to its security and privacy features. In Messenger Rooms, the host can control the accessibility and visibility of the room by the additional “lock room” feature.
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This evades the sort of Zoombombing invasion that its nemesis had to suffer. Unlike Zoom’s work centered reputation, Messenger Rooms is tailored for casual video chatting with family and friends. Facebook’s blog asserts that they are “announcing features across our (their) products that make video chat and live video easier and more natural.”
It is developing a more casual and social brand than Zoom, where one celebrates birthdays, joins book clubs or plays group games.
What new and exclusive features Messenger Rooms comes with?
In addition to Messenger’s existing AR-powered features like the bunny ears, Rooms is treating its consumers with AI-powered features like mood lighting and 360-degree backgrounds like Space Cats, Lake Forest, Raining Donuts, Black Hole, Chic Apartment, Ball Pit and Sunset Beach to offer immersive experiences that show off its fun side.
This means that you can hold up your phone and the background will persist while you move along the room. As the host will be able to lock rooms and manage room visibility, this will allow people to video call freely. Facebook also said that they would add 14 additional camera filters to Messenger Rooms.
As Zoom continues to climb upwards of 300 million users, Facebook has claimed that it will add the “Rooms” feature to Whatsapp, Portal, and Instagram Direct. Facebook has already set out to claim fallen empires through Messenger Rooms, its knight in AI armor. It is interesting now to see how Zoom fares through this attack and what does it do to combat the impact of Messenger Rooms by Facebook.