Facebook is letting some users make voice and video calls within its main app on a trial basis, aiming to make it easier to place calls without opening its standalone Messenger app.
The social media giant spun out Messenger from its main app years ago, meaning users would have to download a separate app in order to send messages and make calls.
Facebook has been trying to tie together messaging across its suite of apps and first enabled it between Instagram and Messenger last September. The move enabled users of each service to find, message, and hold video calls with contacts on the other without needing to download both apps.
It plans to eventually integrate WhatsApp into the mix.
However, a Facebook spokesperson said on Monday that for a full-featured messaging, audio and video call experience, people should continue using Messenger.
The beta test of Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms app comes as many companies continue to work from home after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down physical workspaces and as a new variant is sweeping across the globe.
Facebook sees its latest launch as an early step toward building the futuristic “metaverse” that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has touted in recent weeks.
The world’s largest social network has invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets, working on AR glasses and wristband technologies and buying a bevy of VR gaming studios, including BigBox VR.
Gaining dominance in this space, which Facebook bets will be the next big computing platform, will allow it to be less reliant in the future on other hardware makers, such as Apple, the company has said.
Facebook’s vice president of its Reality Labs group, Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth, said the new Workrooms app gives “a good sense” of how the company envisions elements of the metaverse.
“This is kind of one of those foundational steps in that direction,” Bosworth told reporters during a VR news conference.
© Thomson Reuters 2021