Facebook's Messenger makeover focuses on simplicity
The messaging app, which counts more than 1.3 billion users, is cutting down on the number of tabs, adding a "dark mode" and other seemingly modernizing features.
Queenie WongFormer Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
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messaging app is getting a new look, and the tech firm wants to keep it simple.
On Tuesday, the social media giant unveiled a new version of Messenger that the company said is easier for users to browse. Instead of nine tabs along the bottom, users will now have only three tabs: Chats, People and Discover.
The Chats tab displays messages from your friends and groups along with their Stories, a feature that lets users post videos and photos that sit at the top of the app and vanish within 24 hours. The People tab also shows stories, along with who's active online. The last tab, Discover, lets users chat with businesses like Nike and Sephora and play also games.
Called Messenger 4, the new version of the app includes a camera button at the top to make it easier for users to snap selfies. People can change the color of their chat bubbles, choosing from gradients of pink, yellow, orange, green and more to reflect their mood. Facebook said it's planning to release a "dark mode" that reduces the glare from your phone.
Facebook Messenger, which now has more than 1.3 billion users, is widely used in part because, beginning in 2014, the tech firm required people to download the chat service as a separate app. Competing with similar instant messaging services such as WeChat and Line, Facebook has been adding more features to Messenger, including games, mobile payments and video chat. But all the new features have made it more difficult for users to navigate the app, Facebook executives said.
"This is a new foundational element that will give us the ability to start building way faster, way better and way more powerful features for 1.3 billion people who are out there," Stan Chudnovsky, Facebook's head of Messenger, said during a media briefing Tuesday.
Messenger's redesign comes at a time when Facebook users are questioning if they should trust the social media giant to safeguard their data and privacy. Earlier this month, the tech firm revealed that hackers accessed the personal information of 29 million users, including birth dates, phone numbers and hometowns. And in March, the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that the data of up to 87 million Facebook users had been harvested by the UK-based digital consultancy.
Messenger currently shows ads in a user's inbox, but the company is also testing ads for Stories, which could be released next year.
Facebook revealed in May during its annual developer conference that it was redesigning the messaging app so it looked simpler and cleaner. The tech firm also started incorporating Snapchat-like filters into the app, allowing users to wear a digital mustache or bunny ears.
Facebook's new video chat device Portal is also tied to its messaging app. About 400 million people voice and video chat every month, according to Facebook.
The tech firm, which also unveiled a new logo for Messenger, is rolling out the new version of the chat app globally in the coming weeks.