Facebook and Skype have teamed up to enable video chat right there in your favourite social network. Skype video calling is one of the new features in Facebook Chat -- and you can try it out right now at facebook.com/videocalling.
To make a call, simply click on the new 'call' icon at the top of a friend's profile, in between the current 'message' and 'poke' buttons, or click the video icon in the Chat window.
You need to download a plugin to get started. When you call a friend who hasn't got the plugin yet, they will be prompted to download it, and you can be chatting face to face in a few seconds.
The advantage over Skype is that you can simply call your friends, instead of having to know their Skype username to find them. It also means all 750 million Facebook users can video call, as opposed to the mere 170 million users of Skype. Skype still offers more features, however, now including the ability to see your Facebook newsfeed in Skype 5.3, with Facebook messaging coming in Skype 5.5.
Other new features in Facebook include Group Chat, allowing you to send instant messages to several people at once in a group conversation. The new design also features a sidebar that lists the people you message most, so you can quickly chat to your favourite friends. The sidebar automatically adjusts with the size of your browser window.
The new features were announced today by Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, who said his team had been working with Skype for the past six months. More than 40,000 viewers around the world tuned in to Facebook's live stream to see Zuckerberg reveal the news at FBHQ in Palo Alto, California.
There's more to come, too. El Zuck reckons there's "lot of fun stuff" coming in the next weeks and months, which the Zucker calls "launching season 2011".
Zuckerberg also revealed that Facebook now has 750 million users, and believes it will soon reach a billion souls. But instead of focusing on numbers, he emphasised the explosion in sharing -- which is his way of deflecting attention from Facebook's slowing growth.
Will you be using Facebook video calling? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.