Facebook Messenger is rapidly becoming the one-stop-shop for all your communications — from SMS, voice/video/group calls, payment, transportation, apps, bots and more.
Following the company’s annual F8 developer conference in San Francisco earlier this month, the Menlo Park, California-social network has been quietly rolling out new features to its Messenger service that now lets you make voice calls and send and receive SMS text messages — which typically go through your carrier’s cellular network.
For the past few days, I’ve been trying out the updated version of Facebook Messenger – still in beta – that is only available for Android smartphones, not iOS, as Apple doesn’t allow third-party developers to remove or modify Messages, its instant-messaging app, formerly known as iMessage.
Voice, SMS, Messages, Bots, Apps and more – all in place
In this new version Messenger, text messages now seamlessly appear in purple bubbles with just the contact’s first name initial alongside Facebook messages and their traditional blue color bubbles with the contact’s photo.
But before you can send any text messages you will have to select Facebook Messenger as the default SMS app, which is a fairly smooth process now on Android – just click ‘Change’ on the notification window and you’re good to go.
Unfortunately, none of the advanced features available in Messenger (payment, transportation, apps, bots…), are accessible in SMS.
Although Facebook Messenger and its sister app WhatsApp transmit 60 billion messages a day, which is three times the number of SMS sent worldwide daily (17.2 billion iMessages were sent everyday, as of last February), it’s another subtle way to entice recalcitrant users to move to Facebook. For CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Messenger is the company’s fastest-growing platform in 2015 and now the main rival to Apple’s Messages app with over 900 million active users – 782 million for iCloud (as of last February).