Facebook Live Just Got A Major Update

Just when you got used to Snapchat's magical new video chatting system, Facebook Live updated in a major way. Although the social media giant has a reputation for being full of baby photos and engagement announcements, its live streaming function has done surprisingly well since it rolled out to all users in March. (It was initially tested using celebrities like Dwayne Johnson and Britney Spears, and iPhone users were granted access in January — poor Android users had to wait until last month to create their own videos.) Part of a push to compete with more real-time apps like Snapchatand Twitter, Facebook Live broadcasts a real-time video stream; friends can like, comment, or simply watch the video unfold.

But that was the old Facebook Live — the update expands users' options in a number of ways. Some of the most notable updates involve choosing your audience; the update allows you to invite friends to view your video, and you can broadcast within a specific group or event, even if you're not friends with all the members. As Facebook points out in a a press release, this means you can broadcast from events people are unable to attend, like parties or weddings.

Of course, that's far from the only change; the update also adds the "react" button to videos, so you can send emoji instead of just liking someone's stream. Much like Periscope, these comments and reactions briefly appear on the bottom of the screen before disappearing, and according to Time, they replay when you rewatch the video later. The update also includes five filters, and Facebook plans on eventually rolling out the ability to draw directly on videos as you're filming.

The most important new function, however, is the addition of a Live portal on the Facebook app. In the past, unless you happened to catch a Live video while it was streaming, finding content to watch could prove difficult. This isn't to say that people didn't use Facebook Live — Facebook claims that people are 10 times more likely to comment on Live videos than regular ones, and the Daily Dot points out that more than 100,000 people tuned in to a Martha Stewart broadcast on Tuesday. On the other hand, the addition of a specific portal to watch Live videos can only broaden the feature's appeal by making it easier to locate new streaming content. There's even a desktop version: The Facebook Live map shows where people are currently streaming in more than 60 countries around the world, and their videos are just a click away.

Between Facebook Live, Snapchat's recent update, and apps like Periscope, it looks like the future is going to involve a whole lotta live streaming — although considering the amount of time most of us spend on Netflix, it might not be as interesting as it sounds.

Images: Facebook (2)