While there has been a lot of criticism of Facebook’s new Chat service on its main site, it hasn’t stopped the company moving into the mobile instant messaging market. The new Facebook Messenger application for Android and iOS may also bring video conferencing.
The social networking site is joining the already crowded market, which already has the BlackBerry Messenger and Apple’s upcoming iMessage. According to Guardian.co.uk it will also rival features of Google+, but presently it is available in the US and not in the UK.
It will combine the existing Facebook Messages feature that is available on the website, which contains emails, chats, instant messages, and texts. Users of the application can send messages to their Facebook friends or other people via the users address book, and are delivered by notification or text.
Introducing the new application Facebook engineer Lucy Zhang said “More and more of us rely on our phones to send and receive messages. But it isn’t always easy to know the best way to reach someone on their phone”.
Now with the new application users will now know once the send button has been pressed they will be confident that it “will reach the person right away.” Zhang was one of the founders of mobile group-messaging startup Beluga, which was taken over by Facebook earlier this year. Beluga’s technology is mainly what the Facebook Messenger app is built on.
There is also the ability for location data and photos to be attached to conversations, and code has been discovered by 9 to 5 Mac that suggests that video conferencing could be added at a later date. Despite losing market share Research In Motions BBM still remains popular with over 45 million users.
Apple’s take on the service was first reveled back in June at the WWDC event, and will be available as part of the iOS 5 launch later this year. Google recently launched the Huddle feature of its Google+ social website, which allows for group messaging for Android and iOS users Google contacts.
Facebook will be looking to its new application to keep its users interested as reports of the time users spend on the site falls surface. The fact that the application allows users to also message non-Facebook contacts from their address books may appeal too many though.