Facebook Messenger’s Zoom competitor gets custom backdrops

Facebook Messenger’s Zoom competitor gets custom backdrops, tweaked UI


Messenger Rooms
Can Facebook's answer to Zoom triumph?
Photo: Facebook Messenger Rooms

Whether it’s socially distanced family quizzes, interminable work meetings or virtual conferences, video chat apps are big business in 2020.

Not wanting to be left out of the surge of popularity enjoyed by Zoom and Google Meets, Facebook is updating its video chat competitor Messenger Rooms app. The update makes it easier to find Rooms you’ve been invited to, to arrange future meetings, and to use custom backdrops of your choosing.

As TechCrunch points out, with the update you’ll be able to decorate Rooms with your own photos. This is in addition to previous 360-degree background and filters for mood lighting. Switching up your backdrop is something that’s already becoming standard among video apps. However, Facebook is ensuring it’s not left behind.

The update also allows users to create Rooms for future dates and to better customize audience selection. For example, you can edit or delete Rooms you have created, as well as inviting additional people to join existing sessions.

Finally, the update shows Rooms you are invited to at the top of the Chats tab in your inbox. The interface has additionally been reworked to make Rooms a bigger, more prominent feature by showing it more clearly in the Chats tab.

Welcome Facebook Messenger Rooms

Facebook introduced Messenger Rooms in May, making it a relatively recent entrant to the video chat app market. It is not a standalone app, but rather part of the existing Messenger app. Messenger is available to download for free on iPhone or iPad. There’s also a version available in the macOS App Store.

Whether Facebook Messenger Rooms can catch up with more established rivals like Zoom remains to be seen. But it does offer a few neat touches that make it worth checking out. These include video chats of up to 50 people, with no time limits.

The update isn’t currently available everywhere. However, based on TechCrunch‘s report you can expect to see it pop up in the next day or so.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.