Facebook Chat Heads arriving today on iOS

The social network's retake on mobile messaging is coming to Apple devices, but the floating heads won't be following you everywhere.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
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Watch this: Get started with Facebook Home
Facebook Chat Heads, a messaging innovation the social network pioneered for its Facebook Home family of applications on Android, will be appearing inside the company's iOS application as soon as today, company executives said. But there is one little catch.

Chat Heads in Facebook's iOS application. Facebook
Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer and Vice President of Mobile Engineering Cory Ondrejka told attendees at an All Things D mobile event today that the social network is about to push an update to its iOS application that would add its quirky messaging experience to Apple devices.

Chat Heads reimagines mobile messaging by coupling Facebook Messenger and SMS updates into a more playful environment where contacts' profile pics denote new message threads and stick around as floating heads until flicked away.

The addition -- Facebook's first Home feature to make its way to iOS -- does not entirely replicate the experience on Android when running the specialized software suite. The Facebook executives stressed that Chat Heads' design and feature set on iOS would be identical to that on Android, but that the heads would only work inside the Facebook application, meaning they won't appear outside the contained environment.

"iOS doesn't give hooks to [allow Chat Heads] to be persistent across the entire device," Ondrejka said.

The refreshed Facebook application should make its appearance on Apple's App Store later today, though the Chat Heads rollout could take a few weeks to reach all users. The new version also carries over Facebook's bigger, bolder News Feed design to the mobile environment, and introduces digital stickers to the messaging experience.

Friday, Facebook also released an update to the Facebook Messenger application for Android to give people access to Chat Heads without needing to install the entire Facebook Home package.