Facebook Messenger adds Big Likes and video messages

The latest Facebook Messenger update lets you "Like" things even more emphatically, as well as recording 15-second video messages right there in the app.

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Sometimes like just isn't a strong enough word. In its latest update, Facebook Messenger allows you to mark your enjoyment of a message or post even more emphatically by pressing and holding the "Like" button to register a "Big Like".

Facebook Messenger version 6.0 for iOS, and for Android depending on your device, also adds in-line video clips, so you can record a moving-picture message without leaving the app.

The world of instant messaging is becoming increasingly important as IM apps replace SMS text messages. Not only are IM apps more versatile -- you can send pictures, emoticons and now videos, rather than just words -- they're also cheaper. Unlike SMS, which charges for each message, the only cost for instant messages is the price of your data allowance. Even better, if you're connected to Wi-Fi, every message is free.

Facebook has shown how seriously it takes messages by paying $19 billion for the biggest and best-known IM app, WhatsApp -- the largest acquisition in Facebook's history. Other messaging apps include Viber, Skype and WeChat, and apps built into phones such as Apple's iMessage and Samsung's ChatOn.

In the new Facebook Messenger update, available now, opting to send a video to a friend fires up your phone's front-facing camera to capture your video clip. Previously, you could send pictures and videos that you'd already taken with your phone's camera, selecting them from your photo gallery. Now you can actually record the video as soon as you decide you want to send a message, without having to go to your camera app, record it, and then go back to the Facebook app.

With a limit of 15 seconds on these in-line videos, they're the same length as videos on Instagram -- also owned by Facebook. Apple's iMessage service will add video and audio messages this autumn, when the iPhone and iPad's iOS software updates to iOS 8.

Other messaging services also support videos, but length varies: Twitter's Vine videos are just 6 seconds long.

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