Yesterday I penned Four reasons to like Facebook, an uncharacteristically positive take on Zuckerberg’s social network, but it’s only gone and given me a virtual slap across the chops.
Yes, we all knew the day was coming, and indeed Facebook is now removing the ability to send private messages within the main app, forcing users – forcing users – to install the standalone Facebook Messenger.
What is Facebook Messenger? Essentially it takes the messaging facility formerly housed in the main app, and shoves it in a separate app with little additional functionality.
Why? Facebook says: "We have built a fast and reliable messaging experience through Messenger and now it makes sense for us to focus all our energy and resources on that experience.”
How bizarre. On this Facebook Messenger page, it’s described as a “Free texting” service, which brings to mind Whatsapp. Yes, Whatsapp, which is of course owned by Facebook. What the…?
Now I’m aware that some people defend Facebook’s right to chop and change functionality as it pleases, being a free service, but if billions of people didn’t use that “free service”, Zuckerberg wouldn’t be a billionaire, so yes, I’m going to moan.
Ok, positives first of all, of which there are few. You can mute individual contacts, send video, toggle notification previews, and – interestingly – delete the main 60MB Facebook app.
And now negatives. The first point is that Facebook Messenger is obviously completely and utterly pointless, and demands 37MB of space. That won’t break the memory bank for most, but there are some people complaining about it on the App Store reviews.
If you happen to launch Messenger from the main app, you’ll see a handy “Touch to return to Facebook banner” along the top. However, that banner disappears if your phone locks, and under normal circumstances there’s no way to jump straight from Messenger to Facebook. Sigh.
You can also expect frequent reminders about turning on Notifications, though I suspect – don’t quote me on this – that’s because I’ve got Notifications disabled on my actual iPhone, but enabled within the app. Actually, come to think of it, notifications are enabled as far as badges on the app icon, so… shut up, Facebook.
Yeah, so, not the end of the world, but a bizarre way to go about things. There’s no choice here; you must install Facebook Messenger in order to send private messages, though there’s little in the way of logic.
I suspect, in time, we’ll forget about The Great Messenger Debacle of May 2014, much like the whole Timeline thing has largely been forgiven, but for now, I’m SEETHING (not really).
- You can mute individual people
- Toggle notification previews
- Heck, you can delete the main Facebook app
- Why? Why a separate app?
- You can’t open Messenger and leap directly to Facebook
- Frequent reminders about Notifications
Summary: Forcing users to install a separate app for a service that once happily sat in the main app is just weird. You suck, Facebook.
Price: free @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.