Off late, with every single update, Facebook’s messenger seems to have become a hotchpotch of functionalities. The mess that is Messenger, is largely symbolic of Facebook’s own standing in the world today. With scandals surrounding data breach, election interference, and fake news inspired violence – it’s time that Facebook took a standing and cleaned up its act. Delving the message of cleaning up and fighting back – Facebook has decided to start with its most prevalent app – the Messenger.
In 2011, Facebook acquired Beluga, the group chat app, and turned it into Messenger. Since then, Messenger has received a plethora of updates, each slowly but constantly adding new features, and in the process, complicating things. The app featured five main navigation options, along with a total of nine tabs that featured stories, games, and business. Among all the crowded mess, Messenger’s real purpose – chatting with your friends – was buried. Facebook’s head of Messenger, Stan Chudnovsky, said, “You build a feature, and then you build another feature, and they are piling up. We either continue to pile on, or we build a foundation that will allow us to build simplicity and powerful features on top of something new that goes back to its roots.”
Based on newfound values, Facebook has decided to simplify its messenger app. The new Messenger v4 will feature just three navigation buttons, as compared to a previous five. The camera tab that was previously located in between chats and group chats has been moved up next to the chat composer inside the Chat Section. The chaotic people section has been simplified and now contains the Active list as well as Stories by friends. The games and business section, previously apart, has now been merged into one Discover section instead. The presence of Stories in both the Chats and People section make it seem that the company wants a lot more than the existing 300 million users across Facebook and Messenger opening its Snapchat copycat.
While 10 billion conversations with businesses and 1.7 billion games sessions happen on Messenger each month, and both hold opportunities for monetization, they’re not the app’s purpose, so they got merged. And though 400 million people — nearly a third of all Messenger users — make a video or audio call each month, those typically start from a button inside chat threads, so Facebook nixed the Calls tab entirely. The new messenger has a new logo which is significantly softer than its predecessor. The previous sharp edges have been rounded off the quote bubble and lighting insignia.
Just as Facebook slowly added new features to its app, it has vowed to slowly simplify things as well. A massive change of the old design wouldn’t have boded well with users, so minor changes were welcomed. “It’s impossible to launch something for 1.3 billion people that will not piss people off,” Chudnovsky said. “It takes so much time to test things out and make sure you’re not doing something that will prevent people from doing things that are really, really important to them. At the end of the day, no one really likes change. People generally want things the way they are.”