Facebook requires standalone Messenger app for mobile chat

Facebook ends mobile messaging on its main app worldwide, prompting users to download its standalone chat app.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Facebook's Messenger app. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Want to chat with friends on your Facebook mobile app? You'll have to download the Facebook Messenger app first.

The world's largest social network said Monday it has begun the final phaseout of mobile messaging through its main Facebook app. Now, if users want to chat on Facebook, they'll have to do it through the standalone Messenger app.

Facebook first rolled out its Messenger-only system to select European countries in April, but now it's moving onto the rest of the world. The move is part of Facebook's strategy to develop more standalone apps, like its new short-live photo and video app Slingshot , to keep users engaged in its properties.

"In the next few days, we're continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they'll need to download the Messenger app," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET. "As we've said, our goal is to focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences."

When users try to send a message in the Facebook app, they will be prompted to download Messenger if they haven't already. Users will still be able to see pending messages within the main Facebook app. They can also still tap the messages button in the Facebook app, but then they'll be sent over to Messenger.

More than 200 million people use Messenger every month, according to Facebook, and nearly 1.1 billion users access Facebook at least once a month using a mobile device. During the company's second-quarter earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said customers in the US spend 40 minutes each day using Facebook on their mobile phones.

Facebook said the Messenger app is 20 percent faster and more reliable than chatting with the main Facebook app. Over the past few months, the company has been beefing up features available with Messenger, including adding ways to send photos and videos, have group conversations, conduct free voice calls, leave voice-based messages, and post animated stickers.

The Messenger app is available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and iPad. Facebook chatting on desktop will not require the Messenger app.