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Facebook Messenger launches Group Calling to become your phone

TechCrunch TechCrunch 20/04/2016 Josh Constine

Jump on the party line or hear the voices of your whole family with Facebook Messenger’s latest feature. Rolling out globally today on Android and iOS for free, users can start a group VoIP audio call from any group chat.

Just tap the Phone icon, select which of the group chat members you want included, and they’ll all receive a Messenger call simultaneously. If you miss the initial call but it’s still in progress, you can tap the Phone icon in the group chat to join the call. Facebook tells me there’s no limit on the number of participants, so if you think you’re popular, you can try maxing it out.

Facebook fully rolled out one-on-one audio calls in April 2014, and a year later, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Messenger already made up 10% of all mobile VoIP calls globally.

While there’s no group video calling yet, you can expect that to come eventually. When I asked Messenger’s head of product Stan Chudnovsky last year about group video when one-on-one video calling launched, he told me “Group video calling is definitely a use case that a lot of our people might be interested in at some point…[and] it would be a big deal if the whole [shakes hand to simulate lack of video stabilization] thing goes away.”

Messenger’s goal as of late has been to replace your phone number. Now, Messenger could serve as a better replacement for Skype, and even let you set up easy conference calls with people whose numbers you don’t have.

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