Facebook Messenger is welcoming group calling today, allowing you and up to 50 (!) of your friends to jump on a call together. The update is rolling out over the next 24 hours to both Android and iOS users.
You can start a group call by tapping on the Phone icon in a group chat and selecting which friends you want to ring.
Messenger will ping them all simultaneously. If a friend misses the initial call, he or she can hop in at any time.
Group calling is a big addition to Messenger, but just be aware you need to be running the newest version of the app in order to call 50 of your closest pals.
Chuck your phone app
Group calling shows Facebook is dead set on replacing your phone app. Two years ago, the company fully rolled out VoIP calling to all of its mobile app users, giving them a way to avoid running over their minutes. Messenger also attempted to replace texting by integrating SMS into the app, but the feature was a flop and was removed in 2013.
Beyond voice calling, Messenger also offers group text chat and one-on-one video calls. Facebook plans to add group video calling to Messenger in the future, but has to tackle video stabilization first since users will almost certainly be using it on their phones.
Using an app like Messenger offers some distinct advantages over traditional phone apps.
Rather than jotting down a phone number or plugging it into your phone, you can simply search for people you want to call within the app. It could also cut down on spam calls, and help prevent companies from selling your phone number. You can also block and mute chats easier than with a traditional dialer.
One big downside, however, is that none of this matters if you don't have a solid internet or data connection.