Facebook last night unveiled a video chat feature for its 750 million users across the world in partnership with internet calling service Skype.
The social network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg showed off the technology alongside Skype’s chief executive Tony Bates while also announcing other changes to Facebook’s chat feature.
Want to know more? Then read on to find out how you can get started with it…
Get signed up
Facebook’s new video calling is being rolled out across all the site’s accounts in the next few weeks. With 750 million users, it takes a while. But if you don’t want to wait, you can click the Get Started button on the Video Calling page. One word of warning though, it’s so popular right now that the page keeps crashing and going offline.
Download the software
When you click the Get Started button, you’ll download a small piece of Java software to your Facebook account. Run the download and it will install itself in just a couple of minutes. You’re now up and running and ready to talk on camera.
Buy a webcam and microphone
If you don’t have a camera or mic, you’ll obviously need one to move forward. But if your computer has it built-in, or you have an external one plugged in to a USB port, Facebook will find it automatically.
Find a friend to chat too
Facebook has updated the chat service and a newly-designed stream showing which of your friends are online is also being rolled out. It will show more prominently the mates and family you chat with regularly. To make a video call, just click their name as if you were going to start instant messaging. They must be online.
Look for the video camera icon
In the little blue bar at the top of the chat box you’ve just opened you will find a small icon that looks like a video camera. Click this and you’ll send a request to chat face-to-face. Another way is to go to their profile and select the option to video chat.
Wait for your friend to answer
Once you’ve sent the request, as soon as the person at the other end accepts this, your call will start. You can adjust the volume and mute the sound if you need to. In the top right corner of the video chat screen, you can see yourself in a little box while the rest of the window shows who you are speaking to.
Hang up when finished
Once you’re done chatting, click the X in the top left corner and you’ll end the call. It really is that simple and the quality is excellent, thanks to the service being powered by Skype.
Other things to know…
Video chats on Facebook are free right now and Skype boss Tony Bates hinted that some of the company’s paid-for features could be included in the future to work from inside Facebook.
Unfortunately though, there’s no way of using it from your mobile right now, so it’s not yet a competitor to Apple’s FaceTime on the iPhone 4.
It is though directly pitched against the new Google+ social network from the search engine giant. It features video chatting in a special area called Hangouts, allowing big groups of people to chat at the same time.
Facebook’s video chat will only allow one-to-one conversations.
But the network has now added Group Chat to its normal text-based instant online messaging. Just add the person you want to speak with to the conversation and you can easily make arrangements for a night out or catch up with lots of family at once.
Have you tried Facebook Video Calling? Let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment…