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Facebook expands Portal group calls to 50 people

It's bringing more Zoom-esque features to the device.
Kris Holt, @krisholt
June 16, 2020
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Facebook is ramping up its battle against Zoom by bringing more video calling features to its Portal devices. You’ll be able to hold video calls with up to 50 people following today’s addition of Messenger Rooms. Until now, group calls on Portal have been limited to eight people via Messenger and four through WhatsApp.

As you’re able to do on the likes of Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams, you have the option to blur whatever's going on behind you while you’re on a call. On Messenger or Messenger Room calls, you can add dynamic background scenes through the Portal Spaces option. You might make it seem as though you're on a private jet with clouds whizzing by outside or kicking back on a tropical island.

You’ll have more Facebook Live options starting today too, as you can broadcast to Pages and Groups using a Portal Mini, Portal or Portal+, while there are more AR effects you can tap into on calls and for virtual greetings cards. Facebook is adding two more books to the Story Time app this month, with more on the way later in the summer.

The company is also expanding Portal voice control functions over the next few weeks as well. For instance, you’ll be able to start WhatsApp calls using your voice and there’ll be support for British English commands.

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