Facebook announced "something awesome" today when it officially launched its new video calling service.
The new feature sees Facebook partnering with popular internet telephony giant Skype.
The service is operated by clicking on the new "call" button located at the top of a user's profile page. By clicking the "call" button or finding someone in a new "buddy list" sidebar, users can start communicating instantly with each via webcam.
Philips Su, a Facebook engineer, said the company had been developing the new feature for some time. He wrote on the company's blog, "Video chat has been around for years now, but it's still not an everyday activity for most people. Sometimes it's too difficult to set up, or the friends you want to talk to are on different services. So a few months ago, we started working with Skype to bring video calling to Facebook. We built it right into chat, so all your conversations start from the same place. To call your friend, just click the video call button at the top of your chat window." Su said the feature is "the world's easiest one-click way" to chat over video.
The new video-chat capability comes less than a week after Google launched its own social networking platform Google+. The service by Google is seen by as "a genuine competitor to Facebook" and contains a group video chat feature known as "Hangouts." Facebook's video chat service does not allow for group video chats. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defended the move, saying, "The vast majority of video chat is one-on-one chat. ... I just think this is super-awesome."
The new feature launches today for millions of users and will rollout across the entire Facebook platform in the coming days.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News