Facebook has launched a new messaging client for smartphones, aptly named Facebook Messenger. The free standalone app will compete with other popular and upcoming programs like RIM's BlackBerry Messenger 6 and Apple's iMessage.

Like the aforementioned apps, Facebook Messenger is designed to circumvent traditional carrier-based text messaging systems and email.

The new app doesn't seem terribly innovative at first glance, but there are some key differences that set it apart from the competition. The biggest feature is that conversations carry over seamlessly between Facebook and Messenger. For example, if you send someone a message through Facebook Chat on your computer, they will receive it on their phone, and vice versa.

Message logs from Facebook are also synched to the app, so you can pick up a conversation on your phone that you were having on your computer.

The fact that the app is a separate entity from Facebook's mobile app means that you don't have to wade through all of the other features on Facebook to get to your conversations. All of your correspondences are stored right inside the app.

Additional features include location mapping, photo attachments and group chats. Frequent group chats can be named and tagged with photos, something that could be useful if you have multiple groups of friends like I do.

Messenger also pulls contact information from your phone book and if someone isn't using the app, your message will be sent as a traditional SMS.

I've been using the app for a few hours now and thus far, I like it. The layout is easy to understand and it works as advertised between my computer to the phone.