Facebook Messenger Is Going for More Focus; Convergence

Facebook’s Messenger app has over 900 million users and 15 million business pages. It’s the most popular messenger app out there next to WhatsApp (1 billion users) which is also owned by Facebook. So David Marcus, Vice President of the Messaging Products division at Facebook, announced that the home screen of the app is getting a facelift.

The Facebook Messenger app already has a way of popping up in your face no matter which application you’re in. It does get a bit annoying at times when I’m playing Alto’s Adventure and the little circle pop up to have me lose the game. But that’s besides the point. Now the Messenger app is being redesigned to be even more in your face when you open it up. The endless scroll of threads on the home screen will be replaced with a series of sections in an update to come. The sections will include favourites, active users, recent conversations, messages that you haven’t responded to and birthdays. David Marcus says this is being done for the user’s convenience since the current home screen shows conversations in chronological order when only five or six of them are relevant to the user personally.

Marcus added that this applies to the overall mobile experience as well since the number of apps everyone uses is dwindling down to five or six as well. While that may have always been the case (C’mon, we’ve all just basically used our smartphones for Facebook, Music, Texting and Browsing since we’ve had them) it’s true that today every tech company out there is going for convergence or integration. Sooner or later, this is all going to be about choosing one separate experience that has absolutely everything for a user without having to turn to even a third party app (since those will probably be bought by tech giants like Facebook anyway).

This announcement comes days after Facebook announced that it was coupling SMS with Messenger. This move doesn’t allow Facebook to store any messages so it doesn’t violate any rights that your mobile carriers has over your conversations but it does allow you to reply to and receive your texts only via the Messenger App. You can turn on this function by going to the settings of the Messenger App, select ‘SMS’ and then turn on ‘Default SMS App’. This function is only available in certain countries though and only on the Android OS. The SMS threads will then appear in purple to distinguish themselves from the blue Facebook chats.

Facebook Messenger vs iMessage
Apple recently announced a lot of updates to their iMessage app. They opened it up to developers, made it so the app could process peer to peer money transfers, added a ‘tap to add emoji’ function that replaces certain words with emojis in the message and even added options to send live videos and handwriting as well as full screen effects. This was definitely a bid to compete with the messaging apps out there including Messenger.

While iMessage doesn’t have as many users as the Facebook Messenger platform, this move goes back to what I said earlier. Sooner or later it’s going to be about choosing entire ecosystems, not apps, to live your digital lives.