Facebook plans to take Messenger far beyond chatting with friends

Transforming into a complete chat platform

Updated: It appears the news is as good as confirmed. Ahead of Facebook's F8 event, a number of people are receiving a notification that pre-announces "Messenger as a platform".

This is going to be one of the biggest focuses of F8 by the look of things. We'll hear more very soon, but it sounds like the plan is to let app developers do cool things with Messenger.

For example, shopping and paying bills could soon be doable through the platform, and that's just scratching the surface of possibilities.

Original story below...

Instant messaging apps are stealing eyeballs away from the big social networks and Facebook knows it: that's why it wants to expand its Messenger app to include a host of new features.

Features could include more options for sharing content, better access for third-party developers, and the ability to host other services on top of Facebook Messenger.

Essentially, Mark Zuckerberg and his team want to turn it into a platform in its own right, according to "multiple sources" speaking to TechCrunch.

Letting you pay your friends through Messenger is just the first step, it would seem. Soon you could be messaging your mobile operator through the app or using it to keep up with the latest viral videos of the day.

In the hands of F8

Facebook apparently wants to follow the lead of the big messaging apps in Asia like WeChat and Line - these apps have expanded from being one-on-one communication tools to fully fledged portals that support calls, gaming, different kinds of content and other apps that are built on top.

Line, for example, lets you follow your favourite sports teams and celebrities as well as ping your friends; Snapchat, meanwhile, has also broadened its horizons with the Discover page. You can expect Facebook Messenger to follow suit in the next few months.

The rumour is that all of this new functionality is going to be unveiled at the F8 developer conference on on March 25, and TechRadar will be there to bring you the news as it breaks.