Facebook Messenger

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Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger logo.svg
Developer(s) Facebook
Initial release August 9, 2011; 5 years ago (2011-08-09)
Stable release(s) [±]
Android 110.0.0.14.69 / March 21, 2017; 9 days ago (2017-03-21)[1]
iOS 110.0 / March 22, 2017; 8 days ago (2017-03-22)[2]
BlackBerry 1.1.294 / September 25, 2012; 4 years ago (2012-09-25)[3]
Preview release(s) [±]
Android 112.0.0.2.70 / March 28, 2017; 2 days ago (2017-03-28)[4]
Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile 99.788.35363[5]
Development status Active
Operating system Android, iOS, Web, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, Tizen
Type Instant messaging
License Freeware, proprietary
Website www.messenger.com

Facebook Messenger (sometimes abbreviated as Messenger)[6] is an instant messaging service and software application. It is integrated with Facebook's web-based chat feature and built on the open MQTT protocol.[7]

Facebook Messenger lets Facebook users send messages to each other. It was launched as a standalone app on the Android and iOS operating systems in August 2011 and the functionality was then removed from the main Facebook app in April 2014. Facebook has also launched Facebook Messenger Lite, a basic app with a limited feature set for areas with low-speed Internet or old mobile devices. A website interface is also available. Complementing regular conversations, Messenger lets users make video calls both in one-to-one interactions and in group conversations. Its Android app has integrated support for SMS and "Chat Heads", which are round profile photo icons appearing on-screen regardless of what app is open, while both apps support multiple accounts, conversations with optional end-to-end encryption, and playing "Instant Games", which are select games built into Messenger. Some features, including sending money and requesting transportation, are limited to the United States. Recently, Facebook has added "Messenger Day", a feature that lets users share photos and videos in a story-format with all their friends with the content disappearing after 24 hours; Reactions, which lets users tap and hold a message to add a reaction through an emoji; and Mentions, which lets users in group conversations type @ to give a particular user a notification.

In March 2015, Facebook announced that it would start letting businesses and users interact through Messenger with features such as tracking purchases and receiving notifications, and interacting with customer service representatives. It also announced that third-party developers could integrate their apps into Messenger, letting users enter an app while inside Messenger and optionally share details from the app into a chat. In April 2016, it introduced an API for developers to build chatbots into Messenger, for uses such as news publishers building bots to give users news through the service.

After being separated from the main Facebook app, Messenger had 600 million users in April 2015, growing to 900 million in June 2016, and reaching 1 billion users in July.

Features[edit]

Accounts[edit]

In December 2012, Facebook announced that Android users could sign up to the app without a Facebook account, requiring only a name and phone number.[8][9] In October 2013, Facebook made it possible for users to send messages to other users without the requirement of being friends, as long as the user has the phone number of the other user in their contact list.[10][11]

Chat Heads[edit]

In April 2013, Facebook introduced a "Chat Heads" feature to its Messenger Android app, which displays a round icon with a contact's profile photo, appearing on the screen regardless of which app is open.[12][13]

Separation from main Facebook app[edit]

In April 2014, Facebook announced that the messaging feature would be removed from the main Facebook app and users will be required to download the separate Messenger app.[14][15]

Money transfer[edit]

In March 2015, Facebook added a feature for U.S. users to send money to friends.[16][17]

Calls[edit]

In April 2015, Facebook introduced video calling in Facebook Messenger. The functionality was first launched in Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.[18][19] In April 2016, group phone calling was introduced, with a maximum number of 50 call participants.[20][21] In December, it introduced group video calling,[22][23]

Location sharing[edit]

In June 2015, Facebook introduced a revamped location sharing. Users tap on a "Location" button and are then shown a map with the ability to pinpoint any location, even if the user themselves is not present at the place.[24][25][26] In March 2017, it introduced live location sharing, letting users temporarily share their location with a friend or group of friends for one hour at a time.[27][28][29]

Business interaction and third-party app integration[edit]

At the Facebook F8 conference on March 25, 2015, Facebook announced multiple significant changes to the Messenger platform. Messenger will start letting users interact with businesses, including track purchases and receive notifications, and have personal conversations with company customer service representatives. Users will also be able to open compatible third-party apps inside Messenger, such as a movie ticketing service or GIF generators, and then share those details with the other chat participants.[30][31][32]

Transportation requests[edit]

In December 2015, Messenger integrated with Uber to let U.S. users request a car directly from the app.[33][34][35] Support for Lyft was added in March 2016.[36][37] Support for the UberPOOL carpooling service was introduced in July 2016.[38][39]

SMS support[edit]

In 2012, Facebook implemented support for SMS texting within the Messenger Android app.[40][41] However, the feature was dropped in 2013 due to "extensive reworking" of the app, with a Facebook product manager stating that the SMS feature "just didn't take off".[11] SMS was once again introduced in testing in February 2016,[42][43] before the official global rollout started in June.[44]

Multiple accounts[edit]

In February 2016, Facebook added support for multiple accounts in the apps.[42][43]

Bot platform[edit]

In April 2016, Facebook announced a bot platform for Messenger, including an API to build chat bots to interact with users. One use case includes news publishers building bots to "message subscribers directly with news and other information".[45][46] In March 2017, TechCrunch reported that Facebook would announce group chatbots at its next F8 conference, letting group chats in Messenger use bots to "keep users informed about real-time news such as a sports game’s progress, e-commerce deliveries and more". Contrasting with the original chatbots, the new bots would not be designed to be conversing with the chat participants, but rather serve as informational bots that provide ongoing news updates.[47][48]

"Home" messages panel[edit]

In June 2016, Facebook announced a "Home" button as a central location for sending and receiving messages. The Home button features the most recent messages, as well as a "Favorites" section for the contacts with the most frequent communication.[49]

Facebook Messenger Lite[edit]

In October 2016, Facebook launched Facebook Messenger Lite, a stripped-down version of Messenger with a reduced feature set. The app is aimed primarily at old Android phones and regions where high-speed Internet is not widely available. Facebook Messenger Lite is available in Kenya, Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela, and is set to come to other countries later.[50][51]

Encryption[edit]

In October 2016, Facebook introduced end-to-end encryption as an optional feature for Messenger users. It is available in an optional mode called "Secret Conversations" and uses the Signal Protocol. Through Secret Conversations, users can send "self-destructing" messages; messages that are removed permanently following an optional time period.[52][53]

Instant Games[edit]

In November 2016, Facebook announced Instant Games, allowing users to quickly play games including Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Words with Friends Frenzy inside Messenger. Games are asynchronous through high scores rather than directly at the same time, and are built on HTML5 rather than apps.[54][55]

Messenger Day[edit]

In March 2017, Facebook launched Messenger Day. Messenger Day, similar to Snapchat's Stories feature, gives the user the ability to share photos and videos with friends that automatically disappear after 24 hours.[56][57][58]

Reactions and Mentions[edit]

In March 2017, Facebook introduced support for "Reactions" to individual messages, and "Mentions". Reactions let the user tap and hold on a message to add a reaction through an emoji, while Mentions let the user type @ in a group chat to give a particular user a direct notification.[59][60][61]

Platforms[edit]

Facebook launched the iOS and Android versions of Facebook Messenger on August 9, 2011,[62][63] followed by BlackBerry in October,[64][65] and Tizen on July 13, 2015.[66] An app for Windows Phone, though lacking features including voice messaging and chat heads, was released in March 2014.[67][68] An iPad-optimized version of the iOS app was released in July 2014.[69][70] In April 2015, Facebook launched a website interface for Messenger.[71][72]

Facebook announced a Messenger program for Windows 7 in a limited beta test in November 2011.[73][74] The following month, Israeli blog TechIT leaked a download link for the program, with Facebook subsequently confirming and officially releasing the program.[75][76] The program was eventually discontinued in March 2014.[77][78] A Firefox web browser add-on was released in December 2012,[79] but was also discontinued in March 2014.[80]

Reception[edit]

In November 2014, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) listed Facebook Messenger (Facebook chat) on its Secure Messaging Scorecard. It received a score of 2 out of 7 points on the scorecard. It received points for having communications encrypted in transit and for having recently completed an independent security audit. It missed points because the communications were not encrypted with keys the provider didn't have access to, users could not verify contacts' identities, past messages were not secure if the encryption keys were stolen, the source code was not open to independent review, and the security design was not properly documented.[81][82][83]

User growth[edit]

After being separated from the main Facebook app, Facebook Messenger had 600 million users in April 2015.[18] This grew to 900 million in June 2016,[44] and 1 billion in July 2016.[84][85]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]