Here's what isn't surprising: Facebook
is trying to take over where the conventional text message left off. Here's what is surprising: that is has taken this long to get to this point. The tried-and-true phone number is a hangover technology from many generations ago, and it's actually quite unfortunate that it's still around. With so many communication efforts moving to IP-based technology, the phone number still refuses to allow us to talk via voice or text while overseas without paying outrageous roaming rates.
Thankfully, savvy tech companies are discovering workarounds. Google Hangouts
began to enable chats using just one's phone number in a recent app update, and now it appears that Facebook is following suit. The company was already testing the feature within its Android app, and as of today, both iOS and Android users will find a revised Messenger app that allows users to communicate with anyone so long as you know their phone number.
The message is clear: Facebook would rather you use Messenger to text your friends than whatever your default messaging app is. It's going after SMS, Line, WhatsApp, and all of the rest in one fell swoop. The ability to chat with someone even if they aren't your friend on Facebook is a huge boon, and it represents yet another elegant way to avoid those pesky texting fees (particularly while abroad). Give it a download and try it out -- the interface sure is slick, and fits the iOS 7 motif perfectly.