Facebook is working on a standalone gaming application for mobile devices, according to a report by The New York Times.
The Facebook Gaming app is expected to launch on 20 April and will initially only be available for Android devices, with support for iOS coming once approval is given by Apple.
Facebook’s standalone gaming app is set to compete with YouTube and Twitch in the live streaming market, with the company reportedly seeing steady growth on its Facebook Gaming platform.
The app’s launch date has reportedly been moved up due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on global gaming traffic.
“Investing in gaming in general has become a priority for us because we see gaming as a form of entertainment that really connects people,” Facebook told The New York Times.
“It’s entertainment that’s not just a form of passive consumption but entertainment that is interactive and brings people together.”
Facebook has reportedly accelerated the development of other gaming-related offerings due to the coronavirus pandemic, including a new tournament feature.
The company’s new gaming app will offer access to casual gaming titles as well as live streams of popular video games.
It will also include a new “Go Live” feature, making it easy for users to stream mobile gameplay from their smartphone to the platform.
Facebook Messenger chatbot
Facebook has made a number of changes to its suite of applications following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which are aimed at fighting misinformation and offering official communication channels regarding the coronavirus.
The company recently partnered with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to launch a chatbot on its Messenger platform that provides accurate and timely information about the pandemic.
The interactive Health Alert service was built in collaboration with software company Sprinklr and will leverage Messenger’s reach to 1.3 billion monthly active users to provide a platform for getting quick access to topics relating to the coronavirus.
The information offered through the service includes the latest numbers of confirmed cases, tips for protecting oneself, advice for travelling, answers to commonly-asked questions, and links to news updates from the WHO.
It also includes a dedicated “Mythbusters” section which aims to combat misinformation regarding the virus.
The service is free and can be accessed by sending a “Get Started” message to the official World Health Organization profile on Facebook Messenger.