Facebook Launches Skype Video Calls, Group Messaging, Hits 750 Million Users [Video]

Facebook’s showing off its new video calling with Skype and new group chat and design. This and more important news from your Fast Company editors, with updates all day.

Facebook video chat


Mark Zuckerberg Confirms 750 Million Users, Launches Video and Group Chat. At today’s Facebook announcement, founder Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that the world’s largest social network has grown even larger, to 750 million users. With so many users, Zuck said it’s time to give them more to do on Facebook, so today, the company also unveiled two new features: group chat and video calls. 

Like GroupMe and any number of other services, Facebook now offers group messaging, creating a way for users to chat instantly with their friends, however they divide them up–family, college buddies, coworkers. But what’s been more hotly anticipated is Facebook’s video calls, which now provides users with a way to v-chat right in Facebook chat, using Skype. Facebook’s pushing it as being more simple, stripped down, and easy to use than Google+’s Hangout (Only one-on-one for now, though) Stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s the tear-jerky ad for the new video chat: –AC

[Homepage image: Flickr user Robert Scoble]

Hulu Plus Adding Subscribers. Though the drama is heating up as rumors leak of a possible Google or Yahoo acquisition of Hulu, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar took to the company’s blog today for a decidedly drama-free blog post. Kilar made no mention of the acquisition talks–instead, he announced that the company had reached 875,000 paid subscribers in roughly 7 months. –AC


–Updated 5:00 p.m. EST

FaceSpot-ing. Facebook’s big announcement is coming, like, now. And while speculation swirls about a new video chatting service with Skype or an iPad app, we’re wondering pretty hard whether Zuckerberg is about to announce the long-rumored partnership with Spotify. Spotify just threw up a message on its website that it’s “coming to the U.S.” And while gullible types take that at face value, we’ve heard the promise many times before. But launching it with Facebook in a few moments would be big news. I tried to hit up Spotify’s media contact, who’s overseas. Curiously his auto-respond message says he’s traveling today. To Palo Alto, perhaps? –TG

–Updated 1:12 p.m. EST

Apple Firing Legal Rockets At Samsung. The Apple-Samsung court battles over IP have gotten more complicated almost daily, but now Apple’s taken a massive and possibly decisive step: It’s filed a request with the ITC to block imports of all sorts of Samsung devices into the U.S., mere days after pushing the same request in the Federal courts. Is this enough pressure to get Samsung to fold and hand over a license fee, or come to a different financial arrangement? –KE

–Updated 11:50 a.m. EST

Microsoft Guns For Samsung Android Cash. MS is set to demand Samsung pay $15 for every Android phone it sells, as a license fee for patent tech that MS has previously protected inside Android’s code. It’s the latest target for MS, but it’s a big one–Samsung is one of the leading sellers of Android devices, and just revealed it’d pushed three million Galaxy S2 handsets alone. It’s also a move that is, oddly, pro-Apple because it leaves Apple selling its phones and tablets at higher margins than Samsung can manage. –KE


–Updated 8:15 a.m. EST

Sony Brings PSN Back, Plans PS4. Just as the PlayStation network returns fully to Japan, and the “welcome back” program ends, concluding the Sony hack fiasco, there’s a hint that the PlayStation 4 may go into production this year. Far-fetched? Possibly, but the PS3 is definitely mid-life, and will probably remain alongside a pricier flagship PS4…which will be pitched against the WiiU and Xbox…720? –KE

–Updated 07:45 a.m. EST

[Image: Flickr user hyku]

Facebook’s Skype Hype. Can you feel it? Are you ready? Think you can handle something “awesome”? Sure hope so, because today’s the day that Facebook is making its hyped announcement, and it’s teased the event with language that any text-mad teen can understand. Many FB watchers are guessing that at the 1 p.m. EST reveal we’ll hear all about a Facebook, Skype deal that would make group video chats on Zuck’s site easy and attractive to do. This makes sense for a few reasons: as a way to counter Google’s well received Hangouts feature, because it addresses one of FB’s perceived failings, and it’ll make Microsoft, big F-book backers, and recent Skype buyers, happy. Oh, and maybe now Zuckerberg can spend less time cold kicking it on Google+. –MM

–Updated 7:04 a.m. EST


PayPal U.K. Twitter Hacked. Yet another high-profile Twitter account hack: PayPalUK’s feed was taken over briefly by hackers who used their period in control to criticize PayPal for its poor security and to promote the anti-PayPal website PayPal Sucks. PayPal has, of course, stressed that the account and its actual business pages are different, so no customer info was compromised. On the other hand, Twitter’s remained mute on the hacks, which expose how easily its security is overcome.–KE

Google+ Forces Profiles Public. To prove Google’s serious about public sharing on Plus, from July 31st every profile page must be accessible to the general public or it will be deleted. Conscious of some of the sensitivities of this move, Google notes that your “full name and gender” are the only details that absolutely have to be shared. But the maneuver will inevitably cause a big privacy fuss.–KE

Behold The Digital Frontier, Thanks To Patriot Act. A huge diplomatic fuss is bubbling away over the privacy of European’s online data–protected under E.U. law from access without due cause. But Microsoft recently admitted that it cannot protect data stored in the cloud in Europe from being sent to U.S. authorities on demand–particularly when the draconian Patriot Act is enforced. As a result, the E.U. is flustered about its laws, and all sorts of legal woes may ensue. –KE

–Updated 6:15 a.m. EST