Facebook disabling messaging in main mobile app, forcing users to install Messenger

It appears that folks using Facebook’s Messenger service will soon have to download the standalone app, or look at other messaging options. Over the next few days, the social network is going to disable messaging from its main iPhone and Android apps.

The move is an attempt to push users over to Facebook Messenger, which the company says will have several benefits. For one it will enable it to streamline the mobile chat experience, and two, Facebook says users respond faster when using Messenger…

TechCrunch has a statement from Facebook:

“In the next few days, we’re continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they’ll need to download the Messenger app. As we’ve said, our goal is to focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences. Messenger is used by more than 200 million people every month, and we’ll keep working to make it an even more engaging way to connect with people.” 

Up until now, Facebook users could send and receive messages to other users from both the main Facebook app and Facebook Messenger. Now all you will see are notifications in the main app, which you can tap on to send you to the standalone Messenger app.

Facebook has already done this in certain parts of Europe, and it says it’s seen positive results thus far. And while it might make sense for the company from an operations standpoint, it’ll be interesting to see what its notoriously-outspoken-userbase thinks.

If you haven’t already downloaded them, you can find the main Facebook app in the App Store for free, and the Facebook Messenger app here for free. Messenger was recently updated with iPad support, instant video, Big Likes, and other improvements.

Facebook launches redesigned Messenger app!


In line with reports from early October, Facebook has launched a redesigned Messenger app for iPhone users this afternoon. The new design matches the aesthetics of iOS 7, and looks very similar to the updated Messenger app launched for Android a few weeks ago.

In addition to the makeover, today’s update also brings about some new features. In the new app, users will be able to see which friends are using Messenger, as well as have the ability to message non-Facebook friends from within the app as long as they have their number…

Facebook described the new app update in a Newsroom post:

“As more and more people use Facebook to connect with their friends on mobile, we are focused on building the best mobile products. Facebook messaging started as a desktop chat experience, but when it comes to messaging on mobile, people want something faster and lighter weight.”

And here are a few more screenshots for good measure:


Facebook says that the new Messenger experience will be available more broadly to people using the app on both iOS and Android “starting today.” And when it hits, you’ll be able to download the latest version of Facebook Messenger for iPhone from the App Store for free.

Have you tried the new version of Facebook Messenger yet? Thoughts?



Facebook Messenger now lets anyone in the US with an iPhone call each other for free!

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 1.11.46 PM

After announcing the new Graph Search feature yesterday, Facebook has rolled out yet another important feature, the ability to make voice calls from the mobile app to any of your friends.

Facebook is now rolling out a new feature to US users of its Messenger app on iPhone: the ability to make free voice calls. The new feature was noticed by The Verge, which confirmed with Facebook that it was rolling out to US users in the current version of the app today.

This follows the testing of the feature in Canada earlier this month, when it also launched voice messaging in the Messages app.

To initiate a free call, you find the user that you’d like to chat with, tap the ‘i’ button on their profile and tap the Free Call button. The call will be placed over either WiFi or cellular data connections and if the user has the Facebook Messenger app installed, they will receive a push notification that allows them to see that you’re calling and accept the call.Audio 1 520x9211 220x389 Facebook Messenger now lets anyone in the US with an iPhone call each other for free

Currently, the ability to initiate these calls is only available to US (and Canadian) iPhone users as the Android app does not have the capability.

The implications of Facebook offering free voice calls over data are obviously interesting. The network has some 1 billion users in its graph and the connections between those users are getting more and more likely to be able to link you to the people that you call via voice every day. Sure, you have to be contacts with people in order to call them, but why wouldn’t you be Facebook friends with the people that you call the most? Provided that you actually use Facebook at all, that is.

The endgame here is carrier plans that include less emphasis on phone minutes (and text messages) than ever before, and a far greater focus on getting you to pay more for data. If the carriers are going to get turned into dumb pipes one product tweak at a time, you can bet that they’re going to pull every penny they can out of us on the way down.

With services like Messenger, iMessage and more already eroding texting, voice calling is also now taking the hit. If Apple were to tweak FaceTime to allow voice-only calling in addition to tweaks like this one to Messenger, it could be completely marginalized in no time at all.

If you don’t have the free call button yet, you should be getting it shortly, as long as you’re using the iPhone version of the app and you’re in the US, that is.

Facebook is buying WhatsApp ?!

WhatsApp hit the tech news circuit today because of a somewhat speculative article in TechCrunch asserting that Facebook has been sniffing around the mobile messaging company.

But the Facebook acquisition talks aren’t happening, said multiple sources. WhatsApp gave us the following statement: “The TechCrunch article is a rumor and not factually accurate. We have no further information to share at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Facebook gave a standard non-helpful statement of: “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

But that doesn’t mean WhatsApp isn’t worth talking about.

Here’s what is definitely true: WhatsApp is one of the largest mobile apps in the world, hands down. You thought Instagram was a massive independent mobile app before Facebook bought it? It’s not even close.

Facebook and Google have both been very interested in buying WhatsApp in the past, but the company is fiercely independent. (In fact, former Google corp dev guy Neeraj Arora became so intrigued by the company when Google was trying to buy it late last year, that he jumped ship and now runs business for WhatsApp.)

WhatsApp hasn’t released much in the way of numbers, but it is one of the biggest apps on just about every mobile platform out there.

For instance, it recently crossed the 100 million download milestone on Google Play. The only other non-Google apps with that many downloads are Skype, Facebook, Angry Birds and Flash. It’s the No. 1 paid app on iOS in more than 100 countries.

As of August, WhatsApp said it was sending and receiving as many as 10 billion messages per day.

Still, it’s not necessarily clear how WhatsApp will evolve — right now it is a very good substitute for paid text messaging from carriers, especially across international borders. It’s a fast, clean mobile app that doesn’t have any of the complications and annoyances of Web applications ported to phones. But messaging is all it does.

WhatsApp was founded by Koum and Brian Acton, after they both were in engineering roles at Yahoo for about a decade. The company is run by a small team in Mountain View — it was 30 people last time I checked.

On the money side, WhatsApp has significant funding from Sequoia Capital and is privately valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The company makes money by charging $0.99 for its iPhone app, while leaving other platforms free. It also has struck carrier deals in places like Hong Kong because it is such a popular motivation for mobile data usage.

But here’s the thing. WhatsApp is very different from Facebook or any other social network. First of all, it isn’t really a social network. Users connect their phone address books to find others on the service. There’s no notion of a password. If users delete the app or get a new phone, their contacts don’t carry over.

And second of all, WhatsApp is not supported by advertising — unlike Facebook, Google and almost everything on the Internet. “Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought,” Koum wrote in a blog post this summer. “Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product.”

So sure, everybody has their price — but that’s a big fat not-for-sale sign to any Internet company acquirers.