Facebook's redesigned Messenger takes aim at WhatsApp, Snapchat

Users don't have to be Facebook friends to message each other with the new app

Facebook's updated Messenger app lets users send messages to people who aren't their Facebook friends.

Facebook's updated Messenger app lets users send messages to people who aren't their Facebook friends.

Facebook is hoping to gain a stronger foothold in the competitive mobile messaging space with an updated version of its Messenger app, which now lets people message each other even if they aren't Facebook friends.

On Wednesday the company announced an update to its standalone Messenger app, which lets users send text messages to each other, but without the usual other content on Facebook like the news feed and timeline profiles.

The updated app was available previously in a testing mode to a small number of users on Android-based devices, but now is available more widely to people on both Android and iOS.

Before the update, the app let users send messages just to their Facebook friends. Now it lets people send messages to anyone with a Facebook account -- even if they're not friends -- as long as the sender knows the person's phone number. The message appears in the recipient's Messenger app or in the person's Facebook messages folder.

By using Facebook's network to send the message, it saves the sender an SMS charge, similar to other mobile-to-mobile messaging services like WhatsApp, Snapchat and WeChat, which have become popular among teenagers and young adults.

Messenger's new feature may allow Facebook to better compete against those services. Facebook is losing some of its younger teenage users on a daily basis, the company reported during its last earnings call.

The new Messenger app is also designed to be faster, by letting users see which of their Facebook friends are on Messenger. An icon will appear next to the names of people who have downloaded Messenger, which means that those users will be notified instantly upon the message's delivery, Facebook said.

The app was also given a new streamlined look to be easier to get around, by letting users swipe to see recent conversations. Messenger started as a desktop chat client, but when it comes to messaging on mobile, "people want something faster and lighter weight," Facebook said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicestelecommunicationapplicationsiosMobile OSessocial networkingmobilesocial mediainternetFacebookmobile applicationsAndroid OS

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?