By Roger Fingas
Monday, December 19, 2016, 12:42 pm PT (03:42 pm ET)
Facebook on Monday updated the iOS, Android, and Web versions of Messenger with group video chats, attempting to steal some of the thunder away from recent sensation Houseparty.
Video chats are launched by ringing participants directly, or tapping a new video icon from within an existing group conversation. Up to 50 people can talk, although only six people can appear on camera simultaneously —the rest are relegated to audio.
For the moment, one iOS-only feature is support for 3D masks, imitating a feature from another Messenger competitor, Snapchat. Masks on Android are said to be “coming soon.”
Houseparty is centered entirely around video chat, and believed to have over 1 million daily users. It has some advantages over Messenger, among them showing up to eight people onscreen.
On iOS Facebook Messenger is a free download, and runs on any device with iOS 8 or later.