Facebook Messenger gets video calling

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Facebook has introduced free video calling in its Messenger smartphone app, as the company seeks to transform its mobile messaging service into a full-featured platform with the same reach as its 1.4 billion-user social network.

Messenger, with more than 600 million users, now has a video icon at the top right corner of its screen. Earlier this year, Messenger launched voice and video calling between computers.

Messenger competes with Microsoft's Skype, Apple's FaceTime and Google Hangouts, all of which allow video calls between mobile devices or computers.

At Facebook's annual developer conference in March, CEO Mark Zuckerburg said the social network would introduce myriad features within Messenger. For example, users can send money to friends within the app. Facebook also unveiled a platform enabling developers to easily create apps that function within Messenger.

"Adding [video calling] to Messenger instead of the main Facebook app maybe ties into Messenger's mission where it's a real core person-to-person app," said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. "Now they're really enticing people with more features."

Video calling is available on devices using Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems in Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay. Facebook said additional regions will be added within the next few months.

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