All messaging apps will eventually offer the same feature set, or at least that’s the vibe I’m starting to get. The latest copy-paste moment in this sector comes from Facebook Messenger, which just added live Instant Video sharing, just like Apple FaceTime, Snapchat and Google Duo, to its iOS and Android apps.
Facebook is rolling this feature out today (Sept. 1) as a background update, so you won’t have to download anything to access it. While it’s just as easy to use as the offerings from its competitors, some may not realize the option is even available, as Facebook does little to notify you of its addition.
First, while you’re in a message, tap the Video Camera icon in the top right corner, and tap OK if Messenger prompts you for permission to access the camera and the microphone. After your call is picked up, tap once on the screen and again on Messages in the top left corner to return to the chat. Facebook says you need to tap on the Microphone icon to hear the other person, but that wasn’t required when we tried it out.
The video from your call’s recipient will now appear in the top right corner, and you can make it go full-screen by tapping the video from the other person twice. To share the view from your rear lens, tap the Switch Cameras icon in the top right corner while in full-screen video mode.
While this is a great addition for Facebook Messenger users who love sharing video, it also feels like a general flattening of all the major apps out there. Nothing feels special or unique anymore, and everything looks the same. On the other hand, now that Messenger lets you send money to friends, order an Uber and speak to, it could become the only messaging app you need.