The Facebook Messenger app has been going from strength to strength since its release so it is no surprise that we have already arrived at its fifth update. Version 5.0 of this app is bringing in a key feature in line with current messaging trends; instant picture and video sharing. That’s right! Now if words fail you in a conversation, take a quick selfie or upload a short sequence of your reaction to get your message across seamlessly.
Although there is no major visual overhaul to the app itself, there will be some minor reorganization of the layout to accommodate the new features. In the chat screen, we can see the inclusion of several new icons which are the camera icon, picture upload icon, sticker icon (smiley), voice recording and also the trademark “Like” button, moved to make it more accessible.
From the chat screen, just tap the camera icon and it will turn on the camera viewfinder which can be viewed on the bottom half of your screen. Then snap away for your picture and it will display on chat instantly. There is an option to switch between the front and rear views. Alternatively, you can choose a photo already present in your photo gallery. A minor drawback would be that the space for displaying past messages would be noticeably reduced due to the viewfinder.
As for videos, only pre-recorded videos in your gallery can be uploaded directly into chat and this function only works for Android 4.3 onwards. Apart from pictures and videos, Facebook is also encouraging the use of stickers and improved upon it by enabling you to download the entire sticker pack simply by holding down on one that you have received.
Essentially this update has placed more emphasis on visual communication, a trend that is on the rise following communication patterns observed in WhatsApp and the more recent craze, Snapchat. And who could blame them? Statistics from WhatsApp show that users are sending over 700 million photos and 100 million videos a day. That is a staggering amount of usage and by making photo and video sharing functions more accessible, Facebook has taken a big step forward in attracting potential users to this app. Also, in light of the recent rejection from Snapchat towards a $3 billion takeover by Facebook, it is no surprise that Facebook is making a serious effort in ensuring that Messenger is able to compete with Snapchat, luring some of its already 350 million strong user base away.
Trends in messaging today can pretty much can be summed up in the following; Texting has somewhat become a mundane ordeal. So why not mix it up a little?