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Facebook-Messenger

With Apple out to woo iMessage users with a host of new features, many accuse the Cupertino giant of lifting off features from its rivals.

Facebook apparently wants its Messenger app to be the default platform for all forms of communication, be it SMS or messaging. That should explain the re-introduction of the SMS feature to Messenger after the same was pulled off quite unceremoniously back in 2013.

It was only in 2012 that Facebook had integrated SMS as part of its Messenger app, only to withdraw it a year down the line citing poor usage. Whether that really was the reason or Facebook wanted its users to focus entirely on messaging can be a topic of debate. However, what is apparent is that the standard SMS continues to exist even though many had thought otherwise.

Perhaps that’s the reason that made Facebook reconsider its decision even though it is not offering any explanation as to what made them reverse their earlier stand on SMS.

“A lot of Android texting apps didn’t keep up with the evolution of messaging, so we felt like we truly had to make Messenger the best SMS client for Android,” said Facebook Messenger head David Marcus.

As such, Android users worldwide (at least in most countries) can look forward to integrating SMS service from being a standard Android fare to being one that’s managed exclusively by Facebook Messenger.

However unlike Google Hangouts, Facebook chose to keep the SMS thread distinctly different from those of its messages by using different color schemes. For instance, while the Facebook message thread continues with its blue color code, the same for SMSs happens to be purple.

While that does help keep things simple, another nice aspect with the Messenger SMS feature is that users can send voice clips, stickers, and locations information as part of the text message. However, while those can be received on any platform currently in use, users won’t be able to respond likewise unless they too are using the Facebook Messenger app for Android. Standard SMS rates are applicable, though.

Worth mentioning, Apple iMessage also uses different color schemes, green for SMS and blue for online chats to keep them distinct.

Meanwhile, with Facebook’s move to integrate SMS into Messenger is a clear ploy to emerge as a key player in the online messenger segment, the greater picture, that of an ensuing messenger battle between the tech titans is hard to ignore. And Facebook already enjoys an edge here considering its Messenger alone has a user base of 900+ million while WhatsApp user count stands at well over a billion.

Size apart, there also are other aspects that Facebook has to its advantage. For instance, it has a presence across all platforms which applies to both Messenger and WhatsApp. Also, while WhatsApp is tied to a user’s phone number, meaning users can’t pursue the same conversation from multiple devices, the same can be done with Messenger, across devices and platforms.

Apple iMessage, on the other hand, is strictly an Apple-only affair. It in turn instantly makes iMessage a subset of the greater world out there to which it can’t reach out to.

See Also: Facebook removing messaging from mobile web app to drive more users to Messenger

Sure Apple has included a clutch of new features to iMessage as announced during WWDC 2016. Those include new stickers and doodles, handwritten messages, “invisible ink,” and custom animations. However, competing for chatting platforms such as Messenger, Snapchat or WeChat have already been offering such features. Also, while it’s only now that Apple chose to open up iMessage to third-party apps, rivals have already been up to it for quite some time now.

That again can make one to ask as to why Apple is copying competitor’s features. Of course, while Apple might be loath to use the term copying, the fact is, Apple may not have much of a choice other than offering all the same features that users have come to expect out of a messaging platform.

Meanwhile, Google Hangout is an even more of a minority player here though Allo, the search giant’s latest attempt at messenger app might set things right. Right now it seems to have all the right ingredients including the power of Google entire AI might though it remains to be seen how things fare in real world conditions.

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