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Facebook tests Bonfire group video chat as app and in Messenger

Facebook tests Bonfire group video chat as app and in Messenger
From TechCrunch - September 13, 2017

Facebook has been quietly testing a new standalone group video chat app, called Bonfire, which allows up to eight friends to engage in conversation as well as use special effects, similar to those youd find in apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

But upon hands-on testing, TechCrunch has learned Bonfire also lets users join chats straight from Messenger without downloading Bonfire itself. While the Bonfire app is currently only available in Denmark, users with it can invite people from all over the world to join their chats via Messenger.

This strategy could allow Facebook to create a home for Bonfire with dedicated access to launching a multi-screen group video chat, but also let Messengers 1.2 billion monthly users instantly join in. That might save it from the lackluster traction that led to the shut downs of other standalone Facebook apps like newsreader Paper, Snapchat alternative Slingshot, news alert app Notify, and video profile app Lifestage.

The Next Webs Matt Navarra first spotted the app in the Denmark App Store.The Verge first reported on Facebook building Bonfire in July.TechCrunch reached out to Facebook for comment on the app and when it might become available in the US. Heres what a Facebook spokesperson told us:

At Facebook Inc we continue to build and test new products and services. We already have many great experiences for people to video chat in groups, or as individuals, across the family of apps, including Messenger. We are interested in how everyone uses technology and how we can build great experiences for them. Were running a very small test in Denmark of an app we call Bonfire. We have nothing further to share at this time.

By nature of its one-country launch, the indication is that this is clearly a test Facebook is performing, and one that seems to cater to the growing popularity of group video chat.The Bonfire app, which has been downloaded only around 2,000 times, said TNW, was first launched on the Danish App Store in mid-August, then updated this month with the ability to do special effects.

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