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Oovoo, the video conferencing service popular with the young set, is helping Facebook (s fb) get some Google (s goog) Hangout-like coolness with a new Facebook app that offers up to 12-person video chats. The Facebook app is part of a big overhaul for Oovoo’s product lineup, which includes a redesigned iPad app that handles 12-way calls and displays four simultaneous video calls as well as a new web app that can also handle 12-way video chats.
New York City-based Oovoo is now up to 46 million registered users who are increasingly using Oovoo to broadcast their lives and spend hours on end with friends. The new products and updates should accelerate usage even more, especially now that Facebook is part of the Oovoo network. Facebook already has a video chat application thanks to a partnership with Skype (s msft) but that app doesn’t allow multiparty video. With the Oovoo app, users can now conduct 12-way video calls right inside Facebook and they can easily start calling either Oovoo users or other Facebook users. Facebook users who haven’t downloaded the app get prompted to do so the first time.
The iPad app is also a big improvement for Oovoo. It supports four streams simultaneously and 12-way calling. Previously, the iPad, iPhone and Android apps supported six people on a call but could only display one other user live at a time. The iPad app’s UI has also been upgraded to allow one-click Facebook registrations and the ability for users to initiate calls by dragging and dropping contacts into the calls.
Oovoo is providing a new way to invite people into chats with Call Link, which allows users to send out a chat invitation via email, text or through social channels. For people who click on the link, they can fire up a new web-based version of Oovoo that doesn’t require a download.
Robert Jackman, Oovoo’s executive chairman, told me by using Facebook and enabling more sharing though Call Link, Oovoo has the ability to foster even more connections with people. And it highlights just how robust the video calling network is. While Skype provides multi-party calling as a premium service for computers, it doesn’t offer it yet for Facebook or its mobile apps. Oovoo was built as a cloud application, said Jackman, and it’s able to scale up quickly to handle more more users and multiparty conferencing.
The service has been on a tear since launching in late 2010. It’s become a go-to resource for teenagers and young adults, with more than 60 percent of Oovoo users under the age of 25. The average user is spending 200 minutes a month on the service, often keeping it on in the background as they go on about their lives.