Move over, Zoom! Facebook Messenger rolls out new ‘Rooms’ feature

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Looking for an easy way to stay in touch that doesn’t require a new app to download? As more people work and study from home, Facebook is looking to take on Zoom by rolling out ‘Messenger Rooms’, with the idea of getting big groups of people connected online.

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What is Facebook Rooms?

Messenger Rooms is a slightly more sophisticated version of typical Facebook Messenger video calling, allowing for huge rooms (up to 50 people) to speak with video and screen-share capability, with no time limit – an element that separates the feature considerably from Zoom, which imposes a 40 minute time limit on every call.

Rooms allows you to simply send links to people to get them in the call, too! There’s no need for a Facebook account (although the host will still need one), an element that makes this idea really great. If you do have a Facebook account, you can post Rooms links to your feed to invite others, as well as in groups or event pages –  making it a great idea for school classes to get behind.

Facebook Messenger Rooms classroom workplace
Credit: Facebook

Rooms can be joined directly from your browser without a download, and can be locked by the group admin to prevent any potential video call crashers joining in on the fun.

Facebook’s even doubling down on going after Zoom’s widely known live background feature by introducing “360-degree backgrounds” of iconic spaces, that move when you move the camera.

Facebook Messenger Rooms will be rolling out across this week in some countries, and internationally in upcoming weeks. It hasn’t launched in Australia yet.

Internet plans for video calling

Video-calling apps such as Zoom have taken the world by storm, and it’s understandable – having to stay home to avoid a pandemic can be a nightmare for socially active people. This has brought many people to start thinking about their internet plans at home, and if they’re getting value for money.

Video calling can be bandwidth-heavy, especially if you have more than one person connected to the call. If you’re on a Standard NBN 25 plan, video calling should be easy. Standard NBN plans have enough speed to them that video calling should work fine. If you’re more download-intensive, consider an NBN 50 or NBN 100 plan.

Unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost (excluding discounts), from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

If you’re someone with more data-heavy usage needs, you should check out some plans here with Standard Plus NBN 50 or Premium NBN 100 speeds. These NBN plans may be suitable if you do lots of online gaming, high-definition video streaming or heavy file-sharing.

Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Is Facebook Rooms safe?

Facebook Rooms is not entirely secure. Although it allows for rooms to be lockable to stop people crashing the chat, data collection policies still comply with Facebook’s typical rules – meaning third parties can still access your information if it’s shared on Facebook. It’s also not end-to-end encrypted, making it fine for stuff like classes and exercise groups, but less fine for business meetings. Being able to lock rooms is a really great feature, but it doesn’t mean your data isn’t being harvested by Facebook.

Stay safe out there! Although Facebook Rooms might be a convenient application to use, keep your privacy in mind!

What are the best video calling apps?

We included Facebook Messenger on our list of some of the best video calling apps on the market, arguing that it was great because so many of us have a Facebook account, and that it was easy to use. We also included Discord, Skype, Whereby and GoogleDuo, which each have their own great reasons to come on board and use their services. Zoom has also taken the world by storm, but there are privacy concerns to know about.

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