Facebook drops in-app Messenger support, users must download separate app

10 Apr 2014

Image via Wikimedia Commons

In a decision that’s sure to put a number of noses out of joint, Facebook is pushing users to communicate via its stand-alone Messenger app by pulling this service from its main Android and iOS apps.

Users have already begun receiving notifications of the change, which will involve switching the Messenger tab in the main app to a hotlink that will open the Messenger app instead. Don’t have the app? Looks like you’ll need to install it, or access all of Facebook’s functions in one place via its mobile website.

While the standalone Messenger app has existed since 2011, Facebook app users were still able to access their messages within the main app via the contacts tab or the ‘Messages’ function in the main menu.

The changes will be rolled out to all users eventually, who, on receiving the first notification, will continue receiving alerts for about two weeks before the changes come into effect.

Those on older mobile operating systems may escape the change if the Messenger app is incompatible with their platform.

Facebook claims this adjustment will provide a more focused experience with less friction for receiving and replying to messages, but that logic is questionable. Users who find themselves adrift from the Messenger platform in the main app could just as easily use one of a host of other instant chat apps already claiming a large user-base. (Of course, Facebook already owns one of them.)

In terms of development, this marks a positive change and the standalone app should perform better than the main app, which tries to do all things for all men. However, if users are forced to leave the Facebook app to send and receive messages, what’s to say they’ll choose Messenger to do so?

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.