Facebook on Tuesday unveiled an updated version of its Messenger app that lets Android users create an account with only their name and a phone number. No longer are they required to have a Facebook account to download the app and send messages to anyone else using the service.
Call it the latest move by Facebook to end the 20-year reign of SMS by giving more users access to its free alternative to text messaging. The Android Messenger upgrade will roll out initially in five countries—India, Indonesia, Australia, Venezuela and South Africa—before being offered more widely in the next few weeks.
Facebook plans to launch new versions of Messenger for other operating systems including iOS, but didn’t provide a timetable for additional upgrades. Speaking at he Le Web conference in Paris, Peter Deng, director of product at Facebook, said the company is also looking at providing access to other Facebook features like photos regardless of whether someone has a traditional Facebook account.
Of course, offering people discrete parts of Facebook could have the effect of luring them into becoming full members over time, or when they upgrade devices.