Mark Zuckerberg Gives Live Updates on New Products Amid COVID-19

Mark Zuckerberg went live on Friday to update consumers on developing COVID-19 projects.
Brad Bergan
Image formatted to fit. Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook

CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg went live on Friday, 2:00 PM EDT to share new COVID-19 project updates his company is working on during quarantine, as first announced in a Facebook post.


Mark Zuckerberg goes live on Facebook about COVID-19 projects

Mark Zuckerberg updates the public on new Facebook products, beginning with words of how important connection is in times of crisis.

Facebook During COVID
Sample screenshots of forthcoming updates. Souce: Facebook Live / Facebook

UPDATE April 24, 2:22 PM EDT: WhatsApp group possible participants will double next week 

One improvement for WhatsApp is doubling the number of people who can participate in a group call, from four to eight, starting next week. He added that his company is using AI to enhance the user interface, so that changing position during a call will seamlessly shift the background of the speaker.

Zuckerberg spoke about three types of video presence available in the world. The first is video calling, which is the most used type worldwide. It's best for impromptu or one-on-one meetings between two people. Video rooms are when a link is made, and sent out to others so they can attend at their convenience. Live video is for a person or multiple people to broadcast what they're doing, according to Zuckerberg.

He then moved on to describing new apps available through Facebook companies. He added that the number of calls through Whatsapp and other apps has doubled, some even increasing by a factor of ten.

Facebook Messenger Rooms
Sample screenshots of Facebook's new Messenger Rooms feature. Source: Facebook Live / Facebook

UPDATE April 24, 2:35 PM EDT: 'Messenger Rooms,' Facebook's new video room software

A new product called Messenger Rooms will allow users to create a room for any activity or event people want to hold and send a link to anyone, even if they don't have a Facebook or Instagram account. "It's incredibly easy. You just send a link, and that's it," said Zuckerberg. Messenger Rooms will allow up to 50 people to join in on the call, reports The Verge. In the future, rooms will also come to Instagram Direct, Portal, and WhatsApp.

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He also said that you don't need to schedule ahead of time, like one does for traditional video conferences. Instead, a "tray" will appear at the top of a user's feed, listing friends' active video rooms, so users can just click and drop-in, whenever they want. The new software also offers private rooms, with varying levels of openness to in-groups of one's circle of friends, Zuckerberg said.

Messenger Rooms will be available across all Facebook apps, including Portal, Instagram, Facebook, and others. If someone doesn't have Messenger, they can click through the link and land on a browser. Rooms will go active in Messenger today in almost all countries with Facebook, said the company. Availability in the Facebook app in a select group of unspecified countries will also begin today, and spread to the entire world in the next few weeks, reports The Verge.

Facebook Live With
Sample screenshot of the new Live With feature. Source: Facebook Live / Facebook

UPDATE April 24, 2:45 PM EDT: Instagram Live With on Facebook Live, available on larger computer screens

The live video feature called Live With will now launch as part of Facebook Live, said Zuckerberg. In the past, Live With and Facebook Live were used largely for large events. But in the post-coronavirus world, Zuckerberg says his company is seeing people use these for personal online events.

Now Facebook wants to help users build an event to host on live stream. The company also wants to make it possible for people to charge a fee for viewers to have access to events. He said this is in hopes of supporting "creators and small businesses that rely on in-person services."