Facebook just doesn’t stop. This week, they quietly launched a new desktop Mac application with built-in screen sharing and a chat function. The app is targeted at Workplace users right now as it focuses on building a suite of services in order to compete with companies like Slack. For those of you who don’t know Workplace is a Facebook platform that is used to communicate via groups. For instance – to chat with colleagues. The intent is to make it more of a work acceptable platform for actually working.
The app allows Workplace users to access Work Chat directly on their desktop and share files and their screen with another user. Which is very similar to Slack. It is a lot like the Workplace Chat website, but it’s on your desktop. No need to open a browser in order for it to work.
This also sounds a lot like Google Hangouts, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not a lot, but similar. Hangouts are web-based, but they do have an app. But with this Facebook app, you can choose what you want to share on your screen. Your entire desktop or only a specific application – such as your PowerPoint presentation. This will ensure that you won’t accidentally broadcast something private, such as a confidential email.
Some avid Messenger users have been after Facebook to make a dedicated Messenger client for Mac, and this might be the first step in that direction. The desktop app is currently being tested by Workplace users. Which means that it’s like to have a broader rollout somewhere down the road. Vanessa Chan, from Facebook, explains:
“This was one of the most widely requested features by customers, so we built it. The desktop app is still in beta and being tested by Workplace customers who are providing feedback that we’ll use to improve the product before a wider rollout.”
I like productivity, and I also like simplicity. I am a “one stop shop” type of girl. For the most part. I recognize that I’m not going to be able to get everything out of one device or app, but I do like to push those boundaries and at least try. That being said, is that what Facebook is trying to do here? And will it be successful? They started out as a social media company, and I can completely appreciate and understand that they want to branch out. Good for them. But it just feels to me like they’ve got their fingers in one too many pots.
I do like the idea of this workplace messaging tool. But why build a product that already exists? Like Slack. Can you share your screen in Slack? I’ve never tried it. But is that the only thing that makes them different from Slack? You can screen share in Google Hangouts. So what’s setting them apart from Google? The fact that it’s a desktop app and not web based? I’m kind of tired of Facebook trying to be like everyone else. Just pick one thing, stick to it and make it great.
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