5 ways you can spruce up your Facebook Messenger chats

9 May 2016

Messenger is probably one of your most-used apps, but it can look really boring. Here’s five ways you can add a bit more flavour to your conversations.

Messenger is one of a handful of communication apps that have completely overhauled instant messaging in the past few years.

Along with the Facebook-owned WhatsApp (1bn users worldwide), Messenger has 900m users actively chatting away to their often extensive network of friends. Add in Viber and you pretty much have the leading triumvirate.

Seemingly every month, a new addition brings greater capabilities to Messenger, such as Dropbox integration, Spotify sharing or flight check-ins of late. But here are five simple tricks to get a bit more enjoyment out of your app.

Secret chess game

Messenger’s hidden games have emerged in 2016, the first being chess. Open up a conversation with a friend and type ‘@fbchess play’, if your Messenger is up to date, then a chess board will appear.

Then you can just use standard algebraic notation to move your pieces – the style that chess is presented in on many online variants – beginning each instruction with that opening command. ‘@fbchess Pe6’ would move your pawn to square E6, for example. This would be an awful opening move, by the way.

Chess Messenger

‘@fbchess help’ will open up instructions. The basic notation rules are K (king), Q (queen), B (bishop), N (knight), R (rook), P (pawn).

Secret basketball game

Again reliant on the latest version of Messenger, send a basketball emoji to a friend. Then tap on the emoji a few times and the game will emerge where you shoot for a high score.

There’s even an easy cheat for the easy game, if you’re easily swayed. Use a ruler as a guide on the screen and nail shot after shot. Simples.

Rename friends

From the gradual enjoyment of chess, to the excitement of basketball, brought back to Earth by the trivial ability to call your friends whatever you want. Facebook’s real names policy is something that has caused quite the headache for users in the recent past but, in Messenger, you can change your friends’ names to pretty much anything you want.

In truth, you’re naming the conversation, with the rename only lasting throughout that chat – but this could last as long as you want, really. After opening a message thread, tap the ‘i’ icon  that appears towards the top. Select ‘nicknames’ and there you go.

Rename Messenger

Picture perfect

Bored of regular old Messenger visuals? Try chatting with your friends via pictures. When you’re in a chat with someone, tap on the photo icon beside the text box. Choose what picture you want to use and tap ‘edit’. This lets you draw on, or write over, the chosen image.

A perfect way to welcome someone to Dublin, perhaps.

Picture Messenger

Gif of the gab

The final way to spruce up your Messengering is adding GIFs. Again, just below your text box options in chat is a GIF icon, tap on that. Then simply type in a word to find a related GIF that can be used.

GIF Messenger

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Messenger image via Chonlachai Panprommas/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic