With the recent release of BBM for Android and iOS, the realm of mobile messaging apps is getting pretty crowded. Looking to establish itself as a viable contender, Facebook released the latest version of Messenger on Tuesday to a random group of Android testers. Interestingly, the new app has effectively distanced itself from the Facebook brand, forgoing the trademark ‘Facebook blue’ color that many of us have come to expect from the company. In fact, if it weren’t for the chat window’s unmistakeable ‘like’ button, you probably wouldn’t make the connection.
The biggest problem with past Facebook messaging apps is that they tried to recreate the online messaging format, but in mobile form. Messenger will essentially act as its own entity, hoping to model a messaging network similar to WhatsApp or Kik. The redesign features many aesthetic differences, including circular avatars for each of your friends.
On a more functional note, the latest version allows you to see which of your friends actually have the Messenger app themselves (for direct mobile-to-mobile communication), or whether messages are being redirected to their Facebook profile instead. This will eliminate plenty of confusion about which communication method is actually being used.
Furthermore, Android users will finally get a custom design, rather than an iOS port. To speed up the sending and receiving process, the app has also undergone several front-end adjustments. For example, Facebook has decided to eliminate the SMS texting feature after realizing that few individuals actually took advantage of it.
Finally, it’s important to note that the app won’t actually let you text a phone number. That being said, it will make use of phone numbers to help you identify potential contacts. For example, there are many instances where you might have a colleague’s phone number, but don’t have them as a Facebook friend. Simply send them a message on Messenger, and the app will redirect it to their inbox.
The latest version of Messenger should become available to all Android and iOS users in just a few weeks’ time.