Facebook Messenger for the iPhone and Android

IM client for voice and text communication among Facebookers

Facebook Messenger app on an iPhone held in a hand with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background

Janitors / Flikr/CC BY 2.0

Facebook Messenger is an app that is available for iOS (iPhone and iPad), and Android devices that allows Facebook users to communicate more easily using their smartphones and portable devices. Some time back, text and voice communication with Facebook buddies was done through third-party communication software, using mainly VoIP, with tools like Skype. Then Facebook added more functionality for chatting and other apps cropped up that eased the way for VoIP over Facebook. Facebook now has its Messenger, the official app, which allows Facebook users to communicate among them rather seamlessly.

Why Facebook Messenger?

There are other tools out there to communicate with people on Facebook, and some are better than Facebook Messenger, but the latter is the official app and makes things seamless. One could use Skype, but chances to find someone on Facebook is more than chances to find them on Skype.

As it stands now, however, the Facebook Messenger app isn’t that advanced and indispensable a tool. The features are quite limited and voice calling is available only in the iOS version. No voice calling for Android and BlackBerry users so far.

Free VoIP Calls

Facebook is offering completely free VoIP calls over its Facebook Messenger. There are however many restrictions. The service is offered only to people living in the US and Canada. Also, voice calling is available only for the iOS (iPhone and iPad) version. Android and Blackberry users cannot make free calls.

Both the caller and the callee need to be using Facebook Messenger for the free voice call to be established. You should also note that your data plan will be used for the calls, and should also be mindful of the amount of bandwidth each minute of call will consume.

Features of Facebook Messenger

Mobility has been enhanced through this app. Users can now send instant messages directly to friends on their mobile devices. Text messages can be sent to and received from people not using Facebook, but using their mobile phones. This means that you can send your messages using your Facebook account or by simply your phone number.

Voice messages, which are audio messages you instantly record, can be sent too. The app gives audio to record your voice message on the spot and send it. You can also send photos, smileys, and emoticons. Push notifications are also available.

Using the app, you can also start or join in a group conversation, or a conference, where you can organize something in a team. You can also enter your location so people can know where you are.

Using Facebook Messenger

The app is quite easy to download and use. You can go to the official site, which is www.facebook.com/mobile/messenger and click on the ‘Install Now’ button. Upon entering your mobile number, you will be sent the link to download the app through SMS. But you can also go to the direct download pages on Google Play if you are using Android or the Apple App Store if you are using the iPhone. The simple link to go there is fb.me/msgr on your smartphone’s browser. That link will automatically land you to the download page, based on which phone you are using.

You will want to have some permanent Internet connection with this app. Wi-Fi would be restrictive and would hinder the development of its full potential. Consider a new data plan if you don’t have a good one.

The app’s interface is quite simple and easy to use, with the same color theme as Facebook, keeping the look and feel. A list of your friends appears, especially messages left by them. Replying to them is just natural and intuitive, as is creating a new message to a friend. Searching for the contact and typing the message is simple and easy. The interface is made up of some sliding panes, one leaving space for the other while closing. You can have your friend list on one and messages on another. Selecting on friend’s message open a handful of other options like choosing a photo to send, taking a photo, sending emoticons, search for an image on the phone, and more interestingly recording a voice message on the spot to send it.

The app is handy for heavy Facebookers, but not everyone will like it as it does not give all the features. You can consider the other flagship Facebook app for smartphones, which focuses on features other than messaging and communication.