After being around for over a year, Facebook has now decided to expand its Instant Articles feature to Messenger. The update means that if someone sends one of the super-fast loading articles in the standalone messaging client, it can be viewed directly from within in the app.
Normally, clicking on a link in messenger entails having to wait for the mobile browser to load it up. But any Instant Articles that are shared – identified by the lightening bolt icon – will open ten times faster within Messenger itself, offering the same experience as the main Facebook app. Those speedy loading times are due to Facebook hosting the articles on its servers and displaying them in a layout suitable for mobiles.
“Currently, links shared via Messenger load in a mobile browser, which can be a slow experience, especially in places where low connectivity is an issue. Now people can have the same fast, interactive experience reading Instant Articles in Messenger that they have in the Facebook app, and publishers can tell beautiful stories and reach their audiences through both Facebook and Messenger,” said Facebook Product Manager Josh Roberts.
It may be a great feature for news consumers, but there have been some questions raised about the level of control Instant Articles gives the social network. By keeping readers within its ecosystem, Facebook can collect more user data and show more of its own ads. And while Instant Articles publishers do get a cut of the revenue, it’s hard to image it's the same as what they’d recieve if people visited their own websites to view the story.
Facebook says Instant Articles will appear on Android today with iOS support arriving “in the coming weeks.”