Facebook refresh messenger just in time for the weekend

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fbmess.pngFacebook have just pushed out an update to their Facebook Messenger app for iPhone – and have included a new feature for group messaging.

They’re clearly making a big push – it has been given its own tab on the Messenger app. The plan appears to be to create permanent group conversations – perhaps to act as a constant “backbone” for communications amongst a group of people.

Anyone who has messaged multiple people simultaneously knows how useful it can be for everyone to see the same stuff – its like texting everyone, but keeping everyone informed in one go, and is one of the reasons that WhatsApp (recently purchased by Facebook) has proved successful.

For example – if you have all of your work colleagues in the same group, it could be used a bit like Twitter but privately and for that specific group – essentially replacing business software like Yammer. Similarly, if you’re meeting a bunch of people in town, you don’t need to text them all individually to update on your location.

What the new idea does is formalise the existing groups, enabling users to “pin” them to the group page, add a photo to represent them and rename them.

Other new features include the ability to mute chats for set periods of time – options being to mute for an hour, until the next morning or until you switch it back on. Brilliant for ignoring noisy friends.

It’s a neat idea – and another value-add to further tempt people away from boring old text messaging.

The only real question is how long are Facebook going to remain in the bizarre position of offering essentially three separate-but-similar messaging services: not only this, but they also have WhatsApp and Instagram. Surely consolidation will come at some point?

James O’Malley