The Messenger app for Facebook has been around for a long time, initially launched as Facebook Chat in 2008 and becoming a standalone app in 2011. New features have been added and updates made but a thorough consolidation of purpose and design has been long overdue.
The update currently rolling out sees the mass of tabs reduced down to just three. Thankfully, there has been no compromise on functionality, just a more simplified view. There have also been new features added, such as the crowd pleasing ‘dark mode’, which by turning the areas of the screen that are usually white to black, put a little less strain on the old eyeballs. There are also fun features allowing users to add custom nicknames, emojis and colours to individual chats. The sort of thing Facebook will hope is well received by their younger demographic, which is apparently leaving in droves.
The redesign isn’t just at a superficial level either, the app has been re-written from the bottom up to make its code simpler. This will make it easier for developers to add new features in the future.
While Facebook owns WhatsApp, our superb and well-loved messenger app, they still want to have an alternative option. Facebook has been fortunate that its purchase of Instagram has meant that, while there is a movement of young people from one platform to the other, both are owned, and so the net loss is negligible. WhatsApp is the dominate messenger app today, but that could all change. Very little has changed with WhatsApp, and given that there’s no demand for major change, the inactivity in that area has been a good move.
Messenger being branded as Facebook property gives the company greater freedom to change style and flex to fit the perceived needs of their target audience. By regular trialling and testing, they could stumble across a formula that is hugely successful and takes the crown as the new dominate messenger service.