Facebook are far from being done with their messaging app, Messenger. Not by a long shot. As a matter of fact, David Marcus, the man in charge of the Messenger app team is in the news so much he might become more visible than CEO Mark Zuckerberg very soon.
Four days ago, Facebook announced new changes and updates to the Messenger app. Some of the updates like the integration of the SMS feature were announced a while back (more on that later). While a few others are new and previously unknown. The only ‘knowable’ thing about Messenger is that Facebook is going to roll out new updates until the app becomes the all-in-one app for all smartphones.
Over the weekend, we saw how David Marcus announced the addition of the new football game to Messenger. However, it was at the Wired Business Conference four days ago that Mr Marcus gave the world an inkling to what to expect from Messenger this week. And he introduced a term to capture the new updates. He called it ‘re-inventing the inbox.’ The inbox being the Messenger app home screen.
What’s New in Messenger app Home Screen
In the first place, the Messenger app home page (that is, the first thing you see when you launch the app) would be like the inbox of a regular email inbox. In simple terms, this means that recent conversations and threads would immediately appear when the app is launched. These would be placed according to the latest. Also, in addition the to latest conversation, the most frequently contacted friends would also line up on the home screen. This is subtle way of ditching the former chronological order in which items appear on the messaging app.
So, just like Facebook did with the Instagram timeline with great success, algorithms have now being introduced to Messenger. Sooner or later, we knew this was going to happen. I guess this makes it easier for the yet to be launched chatbots to integrate into Messenger. Facebook wants the chatbots to be the ultimate virtual assistance. These changes and updates should be seen as laying the groundwork for that.
Other changes to the Messenger home screen include an icon showing which of your contacts is currently active on Messenger. So one can just pop over and say a few words in greetings and expect an instant reply.
Also, there would be shortcuts to the people you always chat with the most. This I believe is an overkill since the algorithm takes care of that on the home screen in the way it arranges items in the ‘inbox’
Birthday reminders are also now on Messenger. It is not as if the feature would be removed from Facebook like it was done recently with chats on Facebook. This would be cool as more and more people buy into the idea of Messenger. At least, while we spent time chatting or doing other stuff on the app, a gentle reminder about a contact’s birthday is not a bad thing.
SMS in Messenger
The SMS feature in Messenger was announced since February this year. From this week, hopefully, it would be rolled out around the world.
This feature aims to integrate the traditional SMS service into Messenger. This is one update that would really make me use the app constantly. With these feature, it means one can send an SMS text message to just about anybody. All you need is the phone number of the recipient. And the person doesn’t have to be a user of Messenger app. Just send the message and it gets to the recipient as a normal text message. A reply would come straight back to your Messenger app.
One advantage of this is you don’t have to open another messaging app like WhatsApp to send a message while you are already on Messenger. With the way Messenger is being updated, I won’t be surprised if WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, is quietly rested. However, a scenario like that is still far off in the future.
photo credit: news.usa.extra.hu; facebook.com