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Facebook rolls out a redesigned Messenger focused on simplicity

Facebook releases a redesigned version of Messenger today that tries to focus on your chats. After years of revenue-focused expansion…

Facebook releases a redesigned version of Messenger today that tries to focus on your chats. After years of revenue-focused expansion in bots, games, payments and other distractions, the company returns to basics. While all of these additional widgets are still in the app, they are mostly hidden in places where you can safely ignore them. The new Messenger is still promoting its business goals throughout the app, but it’s a welcome return to a time when the app was first and foremost a lightweight tool.

“Messenger is really powerful,” says David Breger, a product manager at the app. “But if you look at something like this, I do not know if the first word you would use is” simple. “” Breger is talking about the old version of the app, as ballooned in the last half past year to nine different tabs.

It’s worth talking, briefly, about how complicated Messenger was. There were tabs for games, for people and for businesses. There were tabs for your friends who currently had the app open, for your groups, and for your previous conversations. The button to start a new text message has become a small box next to the search box, while the most prominent property was reserved for a button to take pictures and videos.


Messenger had a version of ephemeral stories called Day, as it bumped on top of your chats. Each time you shared a private photo, Messenger suggested that you publish it publicly. (I did so many times – accident event.) Day was finally killed for distributed Facebook stories, but the bad taste was left.

Messenger was born as an easy way for Facebook users to send messages to each other while browsing it on the desktop. But in 2014, Messenger released himself as a mobile app, which prompted former PayPal president David Marcus to run it. Facebook executives noted the overall success that China’s WeChat had become a digital wallet and identity system and tried to emulate it.

“We have built many opportunities over the years, but [Messenger] is not as easy as the app was when we started our journey,” says Stan Chudnovsky, who took over Messenger earlier this year when Marcus was able to drive Facebook’s new blockchain- division. “We had a decision to do here: we can continue to stack or we can build a new foundation that would really enable us to build simplicity and powerful features beyond something that’s new and something that goes back to their roots . “

I’m sympathetic to the challenges that the Messenger team faces. Their goal is to build a large company around the commercial (and expensive to run) world of messaging. It’s a hard thing to do – ask Snap. Additionally, while users can complain generally if the Messenger feature is blown up, the app is used by more than 1.3 billion people a month. Thus, all the features of many millions of people are used. It makes it extremely difficult to completely erase functions.


But something has to be done. When Facebook examined their users recently, 70 percent told the company that the most important quality of a good messaging program is its simplicity. With that in mind, Facebook returned to the drawing board – and where it could not directly eliminate features, it tried to consolidate them.

The new Messenger, which Facebook previewed in May at its developer conference, consolidates what once took nine tabs in three. It still feels most famous. The app opens for your chats, just like before. The construction makes a little greater use of white space, but you can still see the same number of chats on a single screen (six). The big photo / video button on the bottom is gone; It has been replaced by a smaller camera icon next to the icon to send a new text message.

The central tab is called “people” and it acts as a phonebook. People who actively use Messenger while you will appear in the contact list, next to their name is a handemoji that, if you tap it, will send your friend a relaxed “wave”. One thing that has been consistent between Old Messenger and New is that it always tries to make you new conversations with friends and thus use the app more. This is the only explanation I can give for numbered marks on the People tab that tells you how many of your friends are active at a certain time. I do not know what to do with the information 77 of my friends are watching Messenger right now, but now I know. (You can hide your active status from friends if you want to, which will also make the mark gone.)


One of the more confusing things about the new Messenger is that it shows you Facebook stories twice: once above your chats, where they are mixed with photos of your friends who are active on Messenger, and then again on the People tab, where they are in line on top of your phonebook. In a redesign that began from the principle of simplicity, redundancy around stories is difficult to motivate. (Facebook says it originally deleted stories from the People tab, but the test group demanded they returned. Thanks for nothing, test group!)

The last tab is called “Discover” and that’s where you find business and games in a section marked “for you”. In theory they are personal, but in practice I have found them irrelevant. My best suggestion is a company that encourages me to “Discover the Secret to Learn English” – a rather hard criticism of my work. There are also insurance companies, cleaning services, games and a variety of robots that you can invite to interrupt you all day with news, sports scores, horoscopes and other information. Within the Discover tab, there is a secondary tab called “company” that contains a directory of trademarks.

Together with the consolidation tabs, the Messenger team made a handful of tweaks to individual chats. You can now change the color of a chat to be a slope so that the color changes as you scroll up and down. It looks good. You can also give everyone in every chat a nickname now, which is useful for trolling purposes. And there’s a nice new gesture to start phone calls and video clips: just swipe directly on a person’s name and the relevant icons are revealed. In the coming months, Messenger is also planning to add a sharply dark mode.


Of course, the chats themselves are still loaded with features. Each chat gives you the ability to send text, an emoji, sticker, a voice message, a photo or a video. Touch the new four-point icon and you will see everything else that has accumulated in what I like, as Messenger’s rubbish: location sharing, games, GIF, bots and reminders. (Who uses Messenger as their reminder program exactly?)

I spent the past week using the newly developed Messenger, and I’m a fan of its look-out. My favorite era of Messenger came just after it spun out of Facebook’s flagship app, when it was basically just a textbook with a growing list of cute stickers. Redesign takes it back in that direction, which marks a rare case when a company returns from its greater aspirations to focus on customer satisfaction. In practice, the new Messenger is not really faster as it is streamlined. There is less of what you do not want, and more of what you do. It is a welcome change of pace.

Nick Statt contributed to this report.

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