U.S. Markets close in 4 hrs 1 min

Want to Facebook Message on Your Phone? Soon, You’ll Need a Whole Separate App

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech

(Via Facebook)

It’s time for another trip to the app store!

Over the next week, Facebook will begin phasing out access to the private messaging service within its main iOS, Android, and Windows apps, according to TechCrunch. Instead, the social network will force its members to switch over to its separate Messenger app if they want to use the site’s messaging service on their phones. 

The Messenger app contains only basic chat and voice call functions. Though you’re able to share photos and videos, it’s mainly an individual app just for chatting. According to Facebook, people receive messages about 20 percent faster on Messenger than the main app.

As you might recall, Facebook began phasing out the messaging capability in its original app for European customers back in April. And apparently after shoving a good number of people over to the new, more spritely service, and seeing “positive results,” it’s decided to do the same globally. 

Though your in-app messaging service will expire within a week of your next use of the feature, you’ll still be able to see notifications for messages you receive in the main app. When you tap on them, you’ll automatically be switched to the separate Messenger app.

The message you’ll receive from what seems to be an otter, asking you to download Messenger. (Via Facebook).

Per Facebook’s official statement:

“We’re continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they’ll need to download the Messenger app. As we’ve said, our goal is to focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences. Messenger is used by more than 200 million people every month, and we’ll keep working to make it an even more engaging way to connect with people.”

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg is particularly focused on expanding Facebook’s products beyond its well-known “big blue app.” In addition to Messenger , the company has also released Paper, a mobile reader, and, most recently, Slingshot, an ephemeral messaging app similar to Snapchat.

Facebook is by no means the first well-known app to nudge its consumers in a new direction. Just last week, Foursquare asked its members to download its new friend-finding location-based app, Swarm, to continue to use Foursquare’s basic check-in functions. In fact, a Facebook engineer even wrote a blog post shaming the app for its inelegant switch:

“What you didn’t see was the incredible amount of work that went into the Messenger app *before* we started switching people to it,” Facebook product manager David E. Weekly wrote. “It wasn’t until version three(!) of our app and a pretty complete rewrite that we felt comfortable pushing people over to it, because we *knew* it was going to be a better experience than messaging in the full Facebook app, and could measure it. It was a bold move but undertaken after hugely intensive testing and consideration and — most importantly — making the core product awesome. It would have been great if you copied *that* playbook.”

Yes, *obviously* a better experience. We can’t wait until each Facebook friend you want to message gets her own separate app, too. It’s only a matter of time.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her here.