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Facebook just opened up Messenger in a big way

Facebook opened up the platform, added 40 new apps and a new way for users to talk to businesses

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
March 25, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3cc3

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Facebook made a lot of noise and news at its F8 conference on Wednesday, but the most exciting thing it announced is that it is doing with Facebook Messenger 

When the company decided to decouple Messenger last year, forcing people to download a separate app in order to use it, I think it became clear that Facebook had big plans for what would happen to the app down the road.

That became clear when, only a couple of months later, there were already talks about integrating with Uber. And now the floodgates have really opened with the announcement of the launch of a platform for developers, allowing them create apps that integrate with Messenger.

The platform already has more than 40 new apps, which will give people the ability to "enhance their conversations with GIFs, photos, videos, audio clips and more," Facebook wrote in a blog post. 

The initial apps that are launching on Messenger come from ESPN, Bitmoji, JibJab, Legend, Ultratest, Ditty, Giphy, FlipLip, ClipDis, Memes, PicCollage, Kanvas, Action Mobie FX, Boostr, Camoji, Cleo Video Texting, Clips, Dubsmash, Effectify, EmotionAR, EMU, Fotor, Gif Keyboard, GifJam, Hook’d, Imgur, Imoji, Keek, Magisto, Meme Generator, Noah Camera, Pic Stitch, PingTank, Score! on Friends, Selfied, Shout, StayFilm, Facebook Stickered, Strobe, Tackl, Talking Tom, Tempo, The Weather Channel, to.be Camera, and Wordeo.

There are multiple ways that  developers can get users to download their apps: they can be display the option for a person to install the app from within Messenger, or to reply using content from the app, Lexy Franklin, product manager at Facebook, explained in another post

"If the person receiving the message doesn't already have an app installed, they can tap Install to be taken directly to the app store to get started using the app. This means people can discover apps recommended by their friends, naturally through their conversations," he said.

The real benefit to developers will come from high engagement, as Facebook also revealed a new user milestone for Messenger: 600 million, up from 500 million in November of last year. 

"With Messenger Platform, developers may also see increased app engagement: If the person receiving the message already has the app installed, they'll be able to tap Reply on an image in a message," Franklin said. "Then, instead of scrolling through pages of apps on their phone, they'll be taken directly to the app to reengage and respond with relevant content."

Facebook also announced Businesses on Messenger, which it says "enhances communications and interactions between people and businesses."

That means that if a person buys something from a website, they can then get updates in Messenger, including order confirmations and shipping status updates. They will also be able to modify their order, track it or return it. 

Facebook's initial partners are Everlane and zulily, both in the retail vertical, and it is also working with Zendesk. It expects to have more partners to announce in coming weeks and months.

All of this news comes a little over a week after Facebook announced a free in-app peer-to-peer payments feature on Messenger, which will be rolling out over the coming months in the United States. 

If I'm being honest, I resisted downloading the stand-alone Facebook Messenger app, for a few reasons, the main one being that it didn't seem super useful to me. I could check my messages by accessing the Facebook site through my mobile browser.

This news changes everything, and has me legitimately excited for the possibilities of what we might be able to do with the app in the very near future. Facebook has found a way to make messaging interesting and cool again.

(Image source: messenger.com)


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