Facebook has covertly launched new official desktop Mac and PC chat applications, with screen sharing enabled. Users have been pleading with the social networking giant to release both a desktop app and screen sharing for some time, however, the two features are currently limited to Workplace, Facebook’s existing enterprise collaboration software.
Companies getting on board with Workplace
Workplace has enrolled more than 140,000 companies, with customers paying between $1 and $3 per user, with US giant Wal-Mart ranks among its most recent sign-ups. Screen sharing is likely to help Workplace attract even more clients and be a huge asset in their competition with such enterprise apps as WebEx and Skype. The beta version of the Workplace Chat desktop app offers a more straightforward approach to messaging with colleagues, without the difficulty of having to depend on a tab that often gets lost among a plethora of other tabs and windows.
Shades of Messenger
The desktop app works in a similar way to Workplace Chat’s website, which was heavily influenced by messenger.com. If offers a large dashboard of all conversations, as well as photo, video, emoji, GIF, voice clip, webcam sharing and text search. Desktop notifications can also be set up to override other windows, so a message is never missed.
Facebook currently only offers a limited number of desktop programs, such as Facebook Gameroom, but now Workplace can be added to the list. The social networking giant launched Messenger for Windows in 2012 but shut it down just two years later citing a number of issues. The Messenger department has since been focusing its attention more on mobile, as opposed to desktop. Now that its monthly users have grown to 1.3bn, however, it could be looking more towards desktop to keep up with a diverse audience.
Sharing is caring
The element that is brand new to Facebook is the ability to screen share. As FB moves more and more towards a visual means of communicating between its users, showing their friends what they’re viewing on screen is a much sought-after enhancement to video chat. While it took Slack four years to add this feature, Facebook made the addition in less than 12 months after it launched the app.
Screen sharing, which has been a feature of both Skype and Google Hangouts since their inception, highlights the user’s demand for interacting in a more personal way. We have seen this in the gaming sector for years, with numerous video games attracting an army of fans who love nothing more than pitting their skills against that of their friends. Games like CS:GO have even extended to users being able to buy accessories online, whilst add-on sites such as Case51 enable users to become more immersed in the game’s culture and to express themselves among fellow gamers. It’s these added features that have transformed the way gamers interact during playing sessions, and like in workplace messenger systems, these are transforming the marketplace.
Protecting sensitive data
Screen sharing can now be accessed both from the web and via the Workplace Chat desktop app. Users can choose to share either their entire screen or a specific app. The latter helps to prevent sensitive information being shared, such as private messages with loved ones when sharing a screen with a colleague. Workplace isn’t limited to just white-collar office workers, but to everyone within the company; so information and ideas can be shared by everyone, encouraging communication and ideas from everyone within the company.