With Messenger, someone on a new i Phone with strong LTE in San Francisco could video chat with someone on a low-end Android with a few bars of 3G in Nigeria.
It’s all free on Facebook’s side, and users will only be charged for data use by their mobile operator, which they can avoid by using Wi-Fi.
One smart thing Messenger allows is for one person to turn off their video feed to make the other person’s high quality.
“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.” Those could help Messenger compete with Google’s Hangouts, which is filled with bells and whistles.
A big question raised by the launch is whether this could pave the way for Facebook to enter the mobile livestreaming market, where Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope are making waves.
This way if you’re sitting at home and a friend is on a mountain in Norway, you can give them the extra bandwidth because what matters is seeing their scenery, not them seeing your bedroom.