Group call feature added, handles up to 50 people : Facebook Messenger update

Nifty new features are frequently added, but they can sometimes be overlooked. Facebook is currently testing two new features, so read on to keep abreast of the latest Facebook Messenger update news. Facebook’s Messenger app has slowly evolved out of Facebook chat into its own independent beast.

April 21, 2016 – Facebook has announced that you can now carry out group calls on Facebook Messenger. Within any group conversation, just press on the phone icon to initiate a group call. The service is currently equipped to handle up to 50 people, suggesting a clear line of sight on this being used in the workplace. No word yet on whether this feature will be expanded to provide a video service, but with the feature in the works for WhatsApp, it seems safe to assume it will arrive sooner or later.

April 7, 2016 – A series of business-friendly updates are rolling out to Facebook Messenger over the next few weeks, the company announced, preparing the app for its dream of providing a cohesive way for businesses and their clients to communicate.

These changes amount to more visible page usernames, shortened Messenger links and Messenger codes (like QR codes) that open chats with a business, and preset Messenger greetings that appear when a chat window is opened.

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The new additions to Facebook Messenger, centered on making it more business-friendly. / © Facebook

March 9, 2016 – Facebook Messenger has received Material Design, first introduced with Android Lollipop. This comes from a Tweet from David Marcus, the head of Facebook Messenger.

The user experience will not be affected as this is a purely cosmetic update. The blue bars at the top of the screen have a cleaner look. There is more space in the app which gives it a roomier feel. There is a new blue plus button that will serve as a way to start a new conversation. You can see the new design below.

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Facebook Messenger now comes with Google’s Material Design. / © Facebook

February 11, 2016 – Facebook has begun testing some very notable new additions to Facebook Messenger, the first in some time.

The first new feature follows closely in the footsteps of Messenger’s photo-sharing sister, Instagram. Multiple account support means that your friends can use your phone to check their Facebook messages, and people who use the social networking platform for work purposes will be able to switch between professional and personal accounts with much greater ease.

The other big change is SMS integration. This feature appeared on the Messenger app in 2012 but was removed after about a year due to low user take-up. Well, now it’s back, in a testing phase, at least.

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I’m in Germany and was fortunate enough to receive multiple account support. / © ANDROIDPIT

Facebook is testing these new features on an undisclosed number of devices, and there’s no word on when or even whether we can expect to see a full roll out.

You can find out if you’re one of the lucky ones by going to Settings > Accounts and seeing if there’s a plus button at the top right of the screen that’ll let you add extra accounts. If you’ve been gifted with SMS support, there should be an SMS option in the Settings menu.

June 25, 2015 – You can now sign up for Messenger without a Facebook account. To do so, you simply have to tap the ‘Not on Facebook?’ option on the welcome screen. All you need to enter is your name and phone number and add a picture. The option opens up the world of Messenger to people who don’t use Facebook, which seems like a sensible addition for Facebook to have made at this point in time.

The benefits of using the service with a Facebook account are still evident, however, as it allows instant access to all your Facebook friends and messages and it allows cross-device access. If you only have a Messenger account, the app works more like WhatsApp.

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Now those of you who aren’t on Facebook can use Messenger. / © ANDROIDPIT

June 4, 2015 – Messenger now features a new way to share your location. By tapping the balloon icon at the bottom of a conversation, you can selected your current location or any point of interest on a map and send that within the chat window. Great if you’re running late, your friend is lost, or you’re trying to organize a meetup.

April 27, 2015 – Facebook introduced video calling to its Messenger app. The addition is cross-platform, so it doesn’t matter if you’re on Android and your friend is on iOS; you just tap the camera icon at the top of a conversation window to start a video call.

March 26, 2015 – Mark Zuckerberg  announced new features to be implemented into the Facebook Messenger app. The new app will become an independent “ecosystem,” allowing you to install apps and make payments from within Messenger.

Facebook Messenger will have its own shop for applications. / © ANDROIDPIT

The plans for the Facebook Messenger update were outlined at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco. The new infrastructure will allow developers to create applications and plugins that can ‘enhance’ conversations, allowing you to add GIFs, photos, videos, audio clips and more.

Facebook’s proprietary app store will be called Messenger App Store and will launch with more than 40 applications already available. When sending a message enhanced by of these apps, the recipient will be notified that they can install the same app to respond in kind.

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Initially, the new Messenger app store will have 40 applications. / © Facebook

In addition to the inclusion of apps, Facebook is also launching Business on Messenger, a service that will facilitate the conversation between companies and their customers. For example, a consumer can make a purchase from a website, and choose to receive regular updates, such as order confirmations and shipping updates, via Messenger.

According to Facebook, the Messenger update with the new features will be available from March 26. If you have not downloaded Messenger already or would like to verify that the update is available to you, simply click the button below.


Install on Google Play

So, what do you think of the new Facebook Messenger? Tell us in the comments.

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