Facebook is adding support for video calls to its Messenger Lite app for Android smartphones and tablets, the social media giant said Wednesday. While the main purpose of the service is to be a lightweight and significantly streamlined version of the main Messenger app, Facebook claims video chats are an "essential" component of the contemporary chatting experience, describing that as the main reason for including the new functionality. The feature has still been developed in line with Messenger Lite's target audience, i.e. people without an access to a fast Internet connection or a new Android device.
Starting a video chat in Messenger Lite is done via the app's "Contacts" section which now features a video icon in its upper right corner. Audio calls can also be turned into video ones by tapping another corresponding icon found in the bottom right corner of the calling interface. The new feature is being introduced as part of a client-side update that's presently rolling out to users in all countries where Messenger Lite is officially available. While the app was initially targeted exclusively at developing markets, it can now be downloaded in most parts of the world, including Europe and the United States. The rollout of the update is gradual in nature and may take several days to be completed, though eager users can always attempt to download the new app build manually via the Google Play Store. While video calling is by far the most complex feature Facebook added to Messenger Lite so far, the app is still under 10MB in size.
Facebook claims Messenger hosted 17 billion video calls throughout 2017, labeling that as a 100-percent annual growth. Introducing the feature to Messenger Lite may help further increase that number, with the move itself being yet another indication of Facebook's new video-first strategy. The company is presently in the process of aggressively promoting its Watch platform that it's trying to position as a YouTube competitor and is already said to have committed tens of millions of dollars to funding original programming for the service.