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Facebook Messenger Has Hidden Video Chat Feature

Video chat isn't functional in the iPhone and Android apps, but Facebook will likely announce the feature in coming months.

Facebook Messenger, the social network's new messaging app for iPhone and Android, may soon have a video chat component. Hackers rummaging around in the new smartphone app have discovered traces of a video chat feature that appears to be under development. The hidden service was first reported by 9-to-5 Mac and How To Arena later confirmed similar video chat remnants were in the Android version.

Video chat doesn't seem to be functional yet, but it's a pretty good bet Facebook will announce the new feature in the coming months. Facebook announced Messenger on Tuesday for Android and iPhone devices. The new standalone app features instant messaging to friends or groups, and photo and location sharing. Facebook says a BlackBerry version will be available soon.

Facebook has been hard at work improving the social network's messaging capabilities. In October, the company introduced text-based group chat for the new version of Facebook groups. A month later, Facebook rolled out a redesigned messaging service that saves your Facebook e-mail, SMS and instant messaging in one place. In July, Facebook launched video chat in partnership with Skype for Windows and OS X users. During the Skype announcement, Facebook also made text-based group messaging a standard part of the social network that works outside the new groups feature.

Video chat no surprise

Although it's encouraging to see video chat features buried in Facebook's new messaging apps, the discovery is hardly a surprise. During its Skype announcement in July, Mike Barnes, Skype's product manager for the Facebook video-chat client, told PCWorld that Skype was ready to add mobile video chat to Facebook's service. "Barnes gave me the distinct impression that Facebook will soon be adding both group video chat and mobile video chat in the near future," PCWorld's Mark Sullivan reported in July.

So look for video chat in the near future, and don't be surprised if group video chat shows up, too.

Google introduced a group video chat feature called Hangouts in June as part of its rollout of Google+, the search giant's new social network.

Connect with Ian Paul ( @ianpaul ) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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