Social media giant Facebook has recently been testing a standalone app that caters for group video chat sessions.
The app is known as Bonfire, and it allows up to eight people to engage in a video call at the same time. Participants can use special effects and filters similar to the ones found on other popular social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.
It is believed that as well as accessing it via the Bonfire app, users will also be able to join in with video chats via the Messenger app, without needing to download Bonfire. The app is currently being tested in Denmark, but users can invite people from across the globe to join in these video calls through Messenger.
The launch of Bonfire would allow Facebook to create a home for its new video app, which has multi-screen group video chats, while allowing Messenger’s 1.2 million active users to instantly join in, giving Bonfire potential to grow a user base of its own in a short amount of time. This move could see it outperform the lacklustre traction of previous standalone Facebook apps that have since shut down, such as Slingshot (a primitive alternative to Snapchat), Lifestage (the video profile service) and news alert platform Notify.
According to The Next Web, Bonfire was first launched in the Danish App Store in the middle of August and has been downloaded around 2,000 times. Since its first appearance, Facebook has given it an update that saw the introduction of special effects. Whilst Facebook has acknowledged the test, it has not given any further information about it, including how long the test will last and whether it will appear anywhere else in the world.
A USP for Bonfire would be that as well as a place for face-to-face live video conversations with friends, users would also be able to feed their content to many of Facebook’s existing social networks, including Messenger, Instagram and Facebook itself. Users would be able to take screenshots and share them to their profiles without having to exit the video call.
Over the last couple of years, Facebook has been aggressively pursuing video, with Facebook Live at the forefront of this effort. However, this may not have been the best way for the company to do this, as not everyone is comfortable with live streaming in front of their whole contact list. Bonfire is a way that it can achieve success in the video sector as it lets users ‘chill’ with their friends with a similar level of interaction and engagement as Facebook Live.