It used to be that we could get along with a single Facebook app that not only handled our social networking needs, but also private messaging between friends. Over the years, Facebook has split the apps, forcing users to install both Facebook and Messenger. While users balked at the split, Facebook contended that it would allow it to create better experience for both platforms.
Playing on that reasoning, Facebook has released a pretty big overhaul for Messenger that introduces a new Home screen, which in effect serves as an inbox for your new messages and recent conversations. “Up until now, most inbox experiences haven’t kept up with the new ways people connect,” wrote Facebook in a blog post this morning. “So, we’ve been thinking about how we can make it simpler and easier to find what you want to start a conversation.
“Now, you’ll see your conversations and ways to connect right where you need them most.”
While browsing around the Home tab, you’ll find a Favorites section that shows your contacts that you most frequently message along with anyone that has an upcoming birthday. There is also an “Active Now” feature that shows which of your friends are currently online.
It’s interesting that Facebook is including birthday reminders in the Messenger app, as we’re already bombarded with those notifications in the main Facebook app. Perhaps Facebook wants to just keep up engagement on the site by making sure that there is no opportunity missed for friends to reach out and connect.
Last week, Facebook caught flak for yet another move to push users away from its main app to the “Moments” photo app. The company announced that it will force users that rely on Facebook to automatically sync photos from their smartphones to make the switch to Moments or have their photos deleted altogether. The ultimatum only applies to synced photos and doesn’t affect photos that have been manually uploaded to Facebook from your smartphone.
Facebook also recently nixed its messaging via the mobile web in order to have everyone coalesce around the Messenger app.