Facebook now is making available its video calling feature for the standalone Messenger app. On Monday, Facebook launched the new feature in 18 countries simultaneously, including the U.S., the U.K., Norway, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Mexico, Oman and Nigeria.

Facebook Enables Video Calls On Messenger App

Presenting Messenger as communication portal

The app comes with a video camera icon located close to the message thread towards the upper right corner which simply needs to be tapped by the user to start a video chat with friends. Users of iOS and Android devices can make use of this facility.

The said feature is also available for the desktop version of Messenger, which the social network recently unveiled. Facebook plans to release in the future a new feature that will support calls made from mobile to desktop and the other way round.

Facebook is making efforts to portray Messenger as a communication portal. The Messenger app serves several other purposes other than chatting and voice and video calls. Recently, Facebook allowed users to use the app for sending money to friends, carrying out business-related conversations easily and tracking purchases made online.

Facebook video calling better than rivals?

Though Facebook introduced the video calling feature only now, Microsoft and Google have long been offering the facility through Skype and Hangouts respectively. Also several messaging apps have come up with video calling facilities such as Line, Viber, WeChat and so on.

Facebook claims its Messenger video chat is better than those offered by rivals as it allows users to switch instantly from texting to video. Also the social network claims the new feature will deliver the best audio and video on various Internet connections and data networks. The company said users have been asking for a video service for Messenger for a long time.

“Everything starts from texting,” said Stan Chudnovsky, head of product for Facebook’s messaging effort.

Facebook introduced Messenger last year as a standalone app, which it forced upon its mobile users for chatting. While it drew criticisms from the majority, in just a year of release and after some initial disagreement, more than 40% or about 600 million Facebook users have chosen to use the app