Why it matters: More and more people are being forced to stay home during this time. Facebook is trying to capitalize off the lack of physical interaction by launching a new desktop app for group video chats. Though this app isn't feasible for a corporate environment, it should make chatting with your current Facebook friends easier.

Facebook has announced a new standalone desktop app for group video calls and chat. The app is available now for both Windows and macOS.

Technically, there has been a Messenger app in the Windows store for quite a while (though it had middling reviews) but Facebook didn't seem to update it as often. A macOS version was briefly in testing and not available for US audiences. This new version comes right on time, however, considering many are working from home.

Unfortunately, a Zoom competitor this is not. Facebook Messenger only supports up to eight simultaneous video participants compared to Zoom's 500. That means that people hoping to avoid using Zoom due to recent privacy and security concerns should probably not use Facebook Messenger if they regularly video chat with more than eight people.

"Now more than ever, people are using technology to stay in touch with the people they care about, even when physically apart. Over the past month, we saw more than a 100% increase in people using their desktop browser for audio and video calling on Messenger. Now with apps for macOS and Windows, the best of Messenger is coming to desktop, including unlimited and free group video calls."

Other shortcomings include the inability to easily share a URL to join the chat or screen sharing.

Zoom and Hangouts both allow other people to join current video conferences by simply clicking on a link. Additionally, the inability to screen share with other participants limits use cases such as presentations or tutorials. To be fair, Facebook doesn't necessarily market the Messenger app as a Zoom or Hangouts replacement and the company's own Workplace app does feature screen sharing and up to 50 people on a single chat.

In these uncertain times though, having another way to connect with family and friends who already use Facebook is welcome. You can download the app from the Microsoft Store or the Mac App Store.