Facebook Streamlines Messenger
Facebook today said it is simplifying the main screen of Facebook Messenger, returning the app's focus to messaging. Facebook has over the last year added numerous features to the messaging tool and the app's usability has suffered somewhat as a result. The app introduces tabs along the top for all the different actions and features, rather than cramming them in small slots on the home screen. The tabs will also show users which of their friends are available for conversations, as well as a dedicated place to host group conversations. The bottom bar now offers shortcuts for making calls, taking pictures, searching or people, playing games, and, later, exploring the forthcoming discover tab. Last, Messenger includes a red dot to help people see what's new. "These changes are designed to make Messenger simpler for you — to help you get to your contacts quickly, jump into your conversations where you left off, start new chats, and stay up to date," said Facebook's David Marcus. The new Messenger is hitting Android and iOS devices this week.
Facebook Messenger Expands to Apple Watch
Apple Watch owners can now read their incoming Facebook Messenger messages on their wearable. A recent update to the iOS app adds compatibility with Apple's smartwatch.
Facebook Adds Video Chat to Messenger Lite
Facebook today made its slimmed-down messaging app a bit more powerful with the addition of video chatting. Facebook calls video chats "an expected and essential part of everyday communication" and the company is pleased to offer the functionality to users of the Messenger Lite app.
Facebook Messenger Brings SMS Back to Android App
Facebook today said Facebook Messenger users will once again be able to send SMS messages — as long as they're running Android. Essentially, Android users can set Messenger as the default SMS app, which will route all SMS messages and conversations through Messenger rather than any other SMS apps that may be installed on the device.
Facebook Seeks to Improve Bots for People, Brands, and Developers
Facebook today announced major changes to its Messenger platform that should make bots easier to find and use. To start, Messenger now includes a Discover tab where people can recall recently used bots, as well as use a free-form search field to seek out new bots.