Social networking giant Facebook has simultaneously launched a standalone Facebook Messenger App for iOS and Android powered mobile devices that is designed to help users with mobile devices reach out to their Facebook friends in addition to contacts on their mobile devices, in an apparent bid to step up competition with rivals, notably RIM’s BBM.
The Facebook Messenger app for mobiles allows Facebook users who have registered their mobile numbers with service, quickly shoot messages to their friends on Facebook who would receive such messages in their Facebook Messenger user interface.
Besides, Facebook Messenger also lets you communicate with friends that aren’t on your Facebook account, with the app sending your messages via SMS text service delivering them directly to their phone numbers.
According to a blog post by Facebook, the Messenger app would help users enjoy group messaging among multiple friends but for users who chose not to register their mobile numbers in Facebook service, such messages would get thrown on to their wall/stream just like regular updates.
The new Messenger app is set to provide competition for platform-specific apps like Research In Motion’s BBM and Apple’s iMessage, as well as the Huddle messaging of Google+.
“More and more of us rely on our phones to send and receive messages. But it isn’t always easy to know the best way to reach someone on their phone. Should you send an email or text? Which will they check first? Did they even get your last message?” wrote Facebook engineer Lucy Zhang in her blog post introducing the new app. “We think messaging should be easier than that. You should be able to write a message, click ‘Send’ and know that you will reach the person right away.”
Interestingly, Lucy Zhang was the co-founder of mobile group-messaging startup called Beluga, which was acquired by Facebook in early March 2011 and whose messenger technology is integrated in to Facebook Messenger app.
The launch of Facebook Messenger could not come at better time than now that some British politicians are seeking suspension of the use of most secret and secure BlackBerry Messenger BBM, (notably its biggest competitor) in London because of the role BBM has reportedly played in helping rioting mobs coordinate their attacks of looting overwhelming police.
Some of the biggest security concerns expressed by few countries including India in past has been the BBM messages’s anonymous character, password-protection, and extremely hard to trace features baffling govt security agencies around the world in tackling terrorism in particular.
Facebook Messenger, definitely scores over RIM’s BBM as all messages in the Facebook Messenger can be traced back to the “real name” the sender used when signing up with Facebook.
Top Features of Facebook Messenger
- Message friends, groups of friends or anyone in your mobile contacts
- Map your location, find your friends and make plans on the go
- Get mobile notifications so you never miss a message
- Include photos so friends can see what you’re doing
With Messenger, Facebook might be hoping that its 250 million users out of 750 million users who access Facebook on their mobile devices, in addition to their non-Facebook contacts from the user’s address book, will give it a bit of the edge in already over crowed messenger space.
Messenger will be available for both iPhone and Android starting today. Just search for “Facebook Messenger” in your phone’s app store, or get a link to the app texted to your phone directly.