If you use Facebook Messenger to make voice calls often, this new feature is for you. Today the company launched group calling worldwide for both iOS and Android, making Messenger really all you need for your calling needs. The feature was announced by David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging, on his account.
To use the new feature, you simply need to tap on the phone icon and then select which friends you want to be a part of the group chat. Once you’ve chosen, the app will dial them all simultaneously and connect them to the chat as they answer. If someone misses the call, they can still join it for as long as it’s going on.
According to Facebook you can call a maximum of 50 people per call, so people like me will probably have more than enough leeway, but if you’re one of the really popular kids you might find yourself maxing out on the number of people in a voice call. Over time, it’s likely that Facebook will change this to allow for larger numbers in group calls.
The new feature will roll out as an update over the next 24 hours, so if you don’t have it right now, you should very soon. It’s also important to note that the feature is currently only available for voice calls, not video calls. This, however, is also a feature we should expect to see sometime in the future.
Facebook has been trying to replace your phone number for a while now, and it’s certainly making a very good case. Unlike phone numbers, Messenger makes it easy to block someone’s calls, and thanks to Facebook’s spam recognition systems, it’s becoming harder for someone to create an account only to spam or harass you.
Messenger is also replacing the need for a number of other services — it’s taking down Skype with its video calling features, and it’s replacing the need for SMS by being so popular as a messaging platform. Maybe one day we won’t need a cellular connection at all — just a data connection so we can use Facebook.
Updated on 04-20-2016 by Christian de Looper: Corrected that up to 50 people could be included in a group chat, not 12.