It looks like Facebook will soon stop forcing you to use Messenger to chat with your friends on Facebook.
Five years ago, Facebook removed the messaging feature on the Facebook mobile app, directing you to use the standalone Messenger app if you want to talk with your friends. Facebook users were forced to download and install Messenger alongside the Facebook app or else they’ll miss messages and calls from their friends. Even mobile browsers were not spared; viewing messages using your mobile browser launches the Messenger app (or Google Play or App Store if Messenger was not installed).
Now it appears that the social networking giant is reintegrating the messaging feature back to its primary Facebook app. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong tweeted a screenshot showing a Facebook feature under development – a new tab to send and receive messages right within the app. At the moment, the chat button acts as a shortcut to the Messenger app.
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the decision to force users to download Messenger, he justified it by saying that an integrated messaging feature was too complicated, and that a separate app for messaging made more sense at that time.
“The primary purpose of the Facebook app is News Feed. Messaging was this behavior people were doing more and more. 10 billion messages are sent per day, but in order to get to it you had to wait for the app to load and go to a separate tab. We saw that the top messaging apps people were using were their own app. These apps that are fast and just focused on messaging. You’re probably messaging people 15 times per day. Having to go into an app and take a bunch of steps to get to messaging is a lot of friction,” Zuckerberg said in 2014.
It is not yet known when and if Facebook will roll out the messaging feature, but the news could be a sign that the company is pursuing a different direction for its messaging apps. Zuckerberg has said that he wants a single messaging platform that combines all of Facebook’s properties including WhatsApp and Instagram. By reintegrating messaging to the standalone Facebook app, the social networking giant might no longer need to promote its Messenger app, and it also makes Facebook more appealing to users in developing countries who own mobile phones with limited storage and capabilities.