Facebook Relaunches Messenger App, Chats Tab Prominent

With a focus on simplicity, Facebook relaunched its popular Messenger app on Tuesday. The relaunch comes as Facebook is pushing advertisers to spend more money on Messenger.

Among other changes, the fourth official version of Messenger has three tabs rather than nine, while conversations -- both one-to-one and groups -- are featured more prominently in a “Chats” tab.

With a “People tab,” users can more easily find friends, check out their Stories, and see all those who are currently active, while a “Discover” tab is for following news and other content.

Stan Chudnovsky, vice president, Messenger at Facebook, said the changes were based on research recently conducted by Kelton Global, which included responses from about 5,000 adults living in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and France.

“Seven out of 10 people told us simplicity is the top priority for them in a messaging app,” Chudnovsky notes in a blog post.

Along with custom nicknames, emojis and chat colors, Messenger 4 features new ways to personalize conversations. For example, with new “color gradients,” people can use multiple colors to customize their chat bubbles in conversations.

Color gradients can be changed any time to reflect one’s mood or topic of conversation.

Despite the simpler layout, Facebook isn’t reducing the number of features available to Messenger users.

To name a few, that includes the ability to poll friends -- on what movie everyone wants to see later, split bills, share live locations, challenge friends to videogames and video chat.

So as not to overwhelm users, Facebook plans to roll out the changes to Messenger in phases.

“We have a handful of new features we’re planning to introduce in the near future, like Dark Mode, a re-skinned interface that cuts down on the glare from your phone,” Chudnovsky teased.

Along with its flagship platform, the social giant recently began inviting advertisers worldwide to buy placements in Messenger Stories. 

As a whole, Facebook has a growing problem. Over the past year, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp did not grow fast enough to offset the Facebook’s sagging flagship service.

That’s according to a recent Pivotal Research, which analyzed data on domestic digital content consumption from Nielsen.

From June 2017 to June 2018, Facebook’s family of sites saw its share of digital consumption drop two percentage points -- from 17.2% to 15.2% -- Pivotal points out. 

Dragging down aggregated time spent for all content measured, Facebook’s core property and Messenger declined by 10%, year-over-year. Even including Instagram and WhatsApp, the metric declined by 6%.

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