Back in 2011, Facebook made waves by forcing everybody who wanted to message their Facebook friends to download a standalone app. In a heartbeat, Messenger was created and it has since gone on to have over 1.3 billion active monthly users. Now, almost eight years later, it looks like there is a new strategy at Facebook HQ and that it could include users once again being able to send messages to their Facebook friends via the main app.
A limited messaging facility has been spotted in some advance code of a Facebook app update
The code has been spotted in a special version of Facebook, which the social giant uses to test new features. According to tech tipster Jane Manchun Wong, the test app includes something all Facebook users will be familiar with but that causes a very different outcome. This is the Messenger chat bubble.
If you open the Facebook app you have on your phone right now and then click the Messenger bubble, your phone will open the separate Messenger app. In the advanced test version of Facebook, this bubble opens up a messaging service right there in the Facebook app.
It isn’t quite time to get too excited just yet, as it also appears that Facebook is limiting the functionality of the new in-app messaging to the basics. You can type out messages to your friends but anything more than that and you’ll have to switch over to Messenger. If you’re the type of person who likes to communicate using emojis or GIFs, or if you want to make a call or send photos, you won’t be impressed by the new features.
For now, this new “Chats” section seems to only contain the basic chat functionalities. To give message reactions, make a call, send photos, etc, you’d still have to open the Messenger app
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 12, 2019
This all fits with the new “Merger” strategy that Facebook is working toward as it plans to integrate Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The apps will retain their individual functions, but the plan is to make it easier for users to communicate with each other across the three apps. This latest move to bring messaging back to the Facebook app isn’t supposed to replace Messenger, it is just supposed to bring the Facebook app into the inter-operability that the merger is hoping to achieve.
This has all been confirmed by Facebook, which told The Verge, “We are testing ways to improve the messaging experience for people within the Facebook app… Messenger remains a feature-rich, stand-alone messaging app with over a billion people using it monthly to connect with the people and businesses they care about most.” It is understood that if a user tries to do something with the new Facebook Chats feature that it can’t do, they’ll then be prompted to open Messenger.
There is no word yet about when the new Facebook Chats feature will roll-out to all Facebook users. When we know more, we’ll let you know.