Facebook integrates Skype for video calling

13:57, July 07, 2011      

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Facebook on Wednesday introduced a new video calling feature powered by Skype and some improvements to the chat designs on the social networking site.

According to Facebook, users can reach video calling from a new "Call" button on a friend's profile or from the chat panel after downloading a Skype application. A recipient will receive an alert that they are being called and can then accept or decline.

At the press event held at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the feature will begin with one-on-one video chat. Skype CEO Tony Bates, whose company has been acquired by Microsoft, said Skype is considering having its paid product within the Facebook product.

The social networking company also introduced "Ad Hoc Group Chat", which enables users to start a group chat instantly without creating a group with those multiple friends at first. The new group chat feature is also available for Facebook's mobile interfaces.

Facebook also introduces a sidebar that lists the people a user messages most, enabling users to chat with close friends, professional contacts or co-workers without being interrupted. The sidebar can adjust with the size of users' browser window and automatically appears when the window is wide enough.

In the opening remarks at the press event, Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook had surpassed 750 million monthly active users. He said the company had declined to announce the number earlier because it has become focused on other metrics, like how actively users are sharing information.

The CEO said users are now sharing 4 billion "things" on Facebook every day, which grew at an exponential rate compared to the amount users share a year ago.

"Social networking is at an inflection point," said Zuckerberg, adding that he believes social networking now is more about the strength of connecting people rather than the quantity of users or ubiquity of the technology.

Zuckerberg presented a graph to show how Facebook product launches have helped drive the growth of sharing. He said the social network expects more innovations from other companies involved in everything from music to communication to help drive the growth.

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