— Amir Efrati (@amir) June 20, 2016
Facebook wants to make their Messenger app into a messaging hub for all users.
“There are other SMS clients out there. Some are quite popular, focused on customisation,” says Facebook product manager Andrea Vaccari, to Tech Crunch. “But what we think we can provide is convenience.”
This feature has not been rolled out in Singapore yet, but Facebook Messenger lead David Marcus has said that it is available in “most countries”. It looks like their SMS function will support voice clips, but without a version to test right now, we can’t tell how well it works.
The online public has met the announcement with a mix of suspicion and doubt:
Some people had their tinfoil hats on,
Some went #neverforget,
People like Kenn showed what we were feeling in Singapore,
And all Apple Users, in general, felt left out.
As of April 2016, there are 900 million installed users on Messenger, and Facebook looks to be covering a larger portion of the instant messaging app market through this integration. iOS doesn’t currently support app permissions for accessing text messages/SMS, but any platform can receive the SMS sent through Messenger.
This change is hardly an innovation. Originally, in September 2012, Facebook launched SMS integration in a bid to provide an alternative at the start of the messaging war. Integrating phone numbers was wise but it failed to gain any momentum as it did not provide any innovations to attract a new users with.
I didn’t use the previous versions of Messenger as everyone was using Whatsapp. I also still associated sending SMS from number to number to cost money, so I did not use any SMS-integrated apps as they made no difference to me.
Pressing “Yes” would change the setting automatically, and there is clearly no obvious option to refuse. This is incredibly frustrating, and reminds me of when Facebook forced its users to install Messenger just to use Facebook Chat on mobile.
I guess Facebook would probably have much less users if they didn’t do that, but I already had the Facebook app, and I saw the separation of the feature into an app as additional to my already app-cluttered phone.
Integrating SMSes is a step in the right direction in making their app more integrated and useful to the user, but they’ll need to offer an extra “deal breaker” in order to push their Messenger app further forward as a standalone app.
Since they are in big data, they can probably have interesting features that their competitors would not have easily, like word cloud: Social Media vs. Instant Messaging.
Snapchat features short videos and images, Whatsapp has groups and Telegram’s reputation of providing end-to-end encryption give each IM app an edge over Facebook Messenger. What if Facebook Messenger had all these features?
Feature Image Credit: Facebook Messenger