To make you download Messenger, Facebook’s killing chat in its mobile apps

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Change is coming… again. Yes, Facebook is getting more aggressive in its mobile strategy — by making sure you have to download its standalone Messenger app if you want to talk to your friends on your phone.

In an effort to slim down the many functions of its main mobile app, the social media giant is stripping the messaging function out and requiring that users install the companion app. At present, messaging is one of the options in the official Facebook app, which when tapped, will switch you over to Messenger (if you have it installed). If you’ve a purist who prefers just one Facebook app, you have the ability to simply message from within the app itself… for a bit longer. Facebook has started sending out warning messages to its users in Europe, informing them they have two weeks to install Messenger or lose the ability to chat privately with their friends.

If you’d prefer not to clutter your phone with yet another Facebook app, there are a few ways out:

  • Get an older Android: Facebook won’t be requiring users of more entry-level devices with limited memory space to download the additional Messenger app.
  • Use a tablet or a WindowsPhone: As yet, Facebook hasn’t rolled out a standalone Messenger app for tablet devices or those running Microsoft’s mobile operating system. So you’ll still be able to chat inside the primary Facebook app.
  • Download Paper: Yes, one way to avoid downloading Messenger is to download another Facebook app — newsreader app Paper gives you the ability to chat within the app (for now).

As TechCrunch points out, this isn’t only a not-so-gentle nudge to boost Messenger’s user numbers — the company may have taken the leap after data it collects on app usage showed that people chat more when they have the standalone app installed compared to the primary one. The current system required far too much tapping and waiting for apps to switch just to answer a message.

Added to that, the move, although harsh, isn’t completely out of line with what we’ve been hearing from Facebook recently. The company has been doubling down on improving Messenger’s look and feel, and introducing the hotlink to the app to encourage users who have both apps installed to rather chat in the dedicated one.

It has also been focused on streamlining its myriad mobile options, unbundling and distilling them to centre on a smaller range of functions to compete more effectively with other leaders in categories from news to chat.

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