Sometimes the best way to move forward is to go backwards and start all over. Facebook is not necessarily starting all over with the two new additions to its Messenger app. The new Messenger SMS functionality in Messenger is not exactly new to the app though.
When it debuted as an integral part of Facebook, the Messenger app acted as an alternative to sending normal SMS through the mobile network. Basically it was a replacement SMS app for your device. And it was also used to quickly chat with Facebook friends.
But it was cancelled because Facebook thought it was not being adopted fast enough. However, the real reason might be because Facebook wanted to promote the Messenger as an independent stand-alone app. The plan worked. Because Messenger is now the world’s biggest chatting app. Bringing back SMS functionality to Messenger is Facebook’s way of saying it wants to kill the traditional way of sending SMS messages through mobile networks
With the new feature, you can now send SMS messages to friends who are not on Facebook or have the Messenger installed in their device. The in-app Messenger SMS interface is differentiated by color codes from regular chat messages. Messenger SMS messages are shown as purple bubbles instead of the normal blue bubbles in chats.
Though only a few people have seen this new feature in their devices (Facebook is testing it for now), a spokesperson for Facebook confirmed the new development saying:
“At Messenger we are always trying to create new ways for people to communicate seamlessly with everyone. Right now, we’re testing the ability for people to easily bring all their conversations — from SMS and Messenger — to one place. It’s a really simple way to get, see and respond to all your SMS messages in just one app. By choosing to access your SMS messages in Messenger, they’re right alongside all the other enhanced features that Messenger offers.”
Unfortunately for iOS users, they may have to wait for a while to get this new feature. The Messenger SMS functionality cannot operate on Apple devices because the operating system is not compatible with how the new feature integrates mobile phone numbers with the Messenger app.
The second feature added to the Messenger app is the ability to have multiple accounts on the same device or on the same app. The feeling here is, many people share a single device like a tablet, and for them to enjoy Facebook Messenger, they would have to de-activate the current Messenger account and re-install it to use their own account. This new feature eliminates the need to do that.
From now on, a new section labelled ‘Accounts’ would show on Messenger app. Clicking it would take you to an interface where you can add a new account. Or remove an unneeded account. The new account can be protected with a password so that only the owner can access the messages. A new message notification can be seen by anybody, but only the account holder with the correct password can view the whole message.
This new feature was also confirmed by a Facebook official who said that,
“Millions of people share phones with their family and friends. Until now, there hasn’t been an easy way for people to access their individual Messenger accounts from shared devices. To address this, we’ve launched a feature on Android to enable multiple people to log in and use Messenger from a single phone.”
The multiple account feature is not dependent on operating system and also unlike the SMS feature, it is not going to be limited to only a few people in the US. It world be released around the world in the coming days.
This is one functionality I won’t mind having on whatsapp.