Facebook has stated it is working towards introducing integration of SMS and support for multiple accounts to its popular Messenger app. The makeover is still being fine-tuned and has been made available to a select group of users in the US right now. Further, the changes only apply to the Android version, and it’s unlikely to ever make it to iOS given the deep integration that the feature needs to have with the OS for its effective functioning.
The move to bring back SMS service to the popular Facebook Messenger app marks a reversal of sorts of its earlier decision to pull back the service back in 2013. Facebook then had cited lack of popular support as reasons for withdrawing the integration of SMS even though experts opined it might have something to do with driving up more support for the Messenger app itself.
The ploy seems to have worked and now with there being a big enough user base that’s well over 800 million hooked on to the Facebook Messenger service, the company is hinting at reintroducing SMS support. This is also in line with the social media company’s vision statement for 2016 that aims to make phone numbers disappear.
Users of the SMS feature will be able to send and receive messages from anyone on Facebook without having to remember their phone numbers. Termed ‘Message requests’, the feature allows the receiver the view the message along with some information about the sender though the latter will never know when his or her message has been seen.
Facebook also stated this makes for a new kind of social exchange where the sender need not be on the receiver’s friend list to send the message.
Meanwhile, another new feature Facebook is adding to its app is support for multiple user accounts. The social media company stated this has become necessary in view of the large number of users who share their devices with family, friends or associates. Now with the option to create more than one account, multiple users can continue using Messenger installed on a single device.
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Facebook also stated each of the accounts can be password protected to maintain privacy.
The above development comes in the wake of a renewed push on the part of Facebook to increase acceptance of its Messenger services, which includes a tie-up with Uber. Introduced late last year, the feature allows users to not only request Uber rides but also pay for it via the Messenger itself. A similar arrangement with Lyft too is being worked out. Payments are being processed by Braintree, a subsidiary of PayPal.
However, the feature is only available in the US right now and is not known when it’s going to be rolled out all over the world.