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Facebook has greatly enhanced it’s Chat functionality, with three major new features: group chats, video calls and a new look and feel for the feature, making the contacts list more prominent than ever before.

Facebook

The event has just wrapped up and many are still wondering how these features will work in the real world, but here’s what we know about them:

Video Calls (Partnership with Skype):

While video chatting has long been available on other services, Facebook is finally stepping up to the game with video chat built right into Facebook Chat. Facebook is using Skype’s technology to build in this feature, but by tightly integrating it, video chats will now be easier than ever for standard users. Instead of requiring a fairly large and bloated client, video chat on Facebook will only require a small browser add-on.

To begin a video chat, users simply need to click "Video Chat" at the top of any Facebook chat conversation. This feature will be slowly rolled out to users over the next few months, but you can have access to this now by navigating to the link given at the end of this post.

New look and feel:

Facebook chat has received a long-awaited updated, featuring a much more prominent look and feel. Your most frequent contacts will now display on a sidebar on the right side of the screen, instead of just a small box below all the other regular features. More interestingly, the friends you talk to the most will display at the top of the list so you’ll be able to get to them more quickly. It’s a nice but welcome change.

New Facebook Chat

Facebook has made it clear in a blog post that your contacts list won’t take up too much screen space, since it will automatically resize depending on the size of the browser window, and simply disappear if the window isn’t wide enough

The sidebar adjusts with the size of your browser window, and it automatically appears when the window is wide enough.

Group Chat

Facebook is now allowing multi-person text chats, without the need to create a group beforehand. From a standard Facebook chat panel, users can just click on the "Add Friends to Chat" icon on the upper right corner in order to begin chatting with multiple people at once.

Multi-Person Chat On Facebook

With these advancements, Facebook’s chat feature is finally positioned as a competitive instant messaging solution. Thanks to its incredibly broad user base, adoption will most likely take place rather quickly and continue the trend of users switching from standard instant messaging services to Facebook chat, for convenience’s sake.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/videocalling to start using the new Skype-Powered video calling!

(read more tidbits on Facebook’s Blog)

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