Facebook Messenger is getting a major redesign, both visually and functionally. The design is strikingly different from previous versions, matching the flat and colorful design of both iOS 7 and Android 4.4 KitKat. Contacts are shown in a list with a subtle icon next to their profile picture. A blue lighting bolt means your friend is using Facebook Messenger, and will receive the message immediately on his or her phone. Contacts without Messenger are denoted by a grayed out Facebook icon.
Although SMS functionality has been removed from Facebook Messenger, the social network isn’t leaving you stranded. If you message a contact without Messenger, the app will send the message to their Facebook inbox, even if you’re not Facebook Friends. This means the new Messenger requires users to submit their mobile numbers, like WhatsApp. Still, this will disappoint those who have been using Messenger as their SMS app. Fortunately, Google has just announced that Hangouts will be supporting SMS soon.
The app has also been updated for performance, with a more responsive app around the entire interface. Facebook has also promised to push updates to Messenger more often, helping the messaging app catch up to competitors more quickly.
The new Facebook Messenger is being pushed to a limited number of Android users today. The update will roll out to the rest of iOS and Android users “in the coming weeks.”