Just last Thursday, Facebook unveiled a completely redesigned Messenger app that will likely draw a variety of responses from the Facebook community.
A newly designed Home tab organizes Messenger into recent conversations, favorites, active users, and messages that have not yet been responded to. The home screen also has a shortcut that reminds users about Facebook friends’ birthdays. Messenger even prepopulates users’ favorite lists based on algorithms that help the social media mogul to identify who users talk to the most often.
Facebook’s active users list shows account owners the other users that are currently browsing Facebook or using Messenger at any given point in time from anywhere in the world. Search features have also been modified so that users can find what they’re looking for in a conversation even if it’s extremely dated.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this year that the app would be changing, stating that Messenger would become “the next big platform for sharing privately.” Facebook’s goal was to make its Messenger app the best positioned social media app to provide an experience that would be than mobile Web apps without needed to download additional apps.
“That’s the promise of a Web-based approach- none of those pesky apps,” explained Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. That said, people could find that working offline “could be problematic as a result.”
Facebook also announced that members will be able to send and receive SMS messages and text messages in Messenger. I don’t quite understand what that means and how the messages would be different than standard Messenger messages, but for the time being the option is only available to Android owners anyway. Even Android owners will still need to send GIFs, money, and make voice and video calls, and book car-sharing rides through Facebook.
“iOS doesn’t currently support app permissions for accessing text messages and SMS,” explained Facebook rep Heidi Hagberg.
According to principal analyst at Constellation Research Ray Wang, Facebook “is going after all the unified channels of communications in order to be that productivity device- the personal connector.”
“It’s trying to do the voice-to-text and video-to-text so people might look at video, which nobody’s watching,” he continued.
Enderle stated that the new Messenger “is an improvement over most messaging class apps, but that Facebook is “pretty far off the mark with regard to a universal messaging app, in that this really doesn’t do a good job of replacing email or embracing voice or video conferencing as a true converged product might.”
“If you have email and calendar, you own a person’s lifestyle,” Wang continued. “Facebook’s taking small steps that tie the consumer role to the enterprise role.”
Wang says that the success of Facebook‘s endeavors will rely on whether people are willing to make the tradeoff between privacy and convenience on the one hand and privacy and security on the other. For the most part, people are generally willing to trade privacy for convenience.