Facebook Messenger is getting the major upgrades users have been crying out for

Facebook Messenger
Image Credit: Facebook

Facebook has announced major changes to the social networking platform, and updates are also coming to the Facebook Messenger app and WhatsApp, with Facebook aiming to overhaul the former while enhancing the latter.

Last year, Facebook showed off Messenger 4, and since then it's added dark mode, the ability to unsend messages, augmented reality features and more. Now, Facebook is aiming for major changes to the platform.

After considerable backlash within the past two years over Facebook's handling of sensitive personal data, the company is, not surprisingly, making a large push in the area of privacy, with many of the announcements at its annual F8 keynote this year emphasizing this.

For Messenger, this comes in the form of end-to-end encryption by default for communications, including not just text but also shared locations, video communications and more. This is a long-awaited feature for the popular platform, and will ensure that communications between users are protected from outside eyes, whether they be hackers, governments or Facebook itself.

Big improvements

Beyond the enhancements to security, Facebook is planning to make the app dramatically better over the course of the year. The company is completely rewriting the app's codebase to reduce the app size below 30MB and offer faster launching of the app, all without reducing the features offered. These improvements can also reduce the app's battery usage on smartphones.

Facebook has further plans to make Messenger the fastest communication app on the planet, and wants to improve reliability. So, more people will be able to use the app with high-end and low-end devices alike.

Another effort to simplify use for everyone is a push toward interoperability. So, going forward, Messenger users will be able to communicate with WhatsApp and Instagram users directly within the Messenger app.

And, Facebook's Messenger platform is getting a dedicated app for Windows and Mac computers with all the features of the mobile versions, including dark mode.

WhatsApp is also getting some changes. Facebook is introducing the ability to share stories and locations similar to Messenger, and they'll keep the same end-to-end encryption that has been a key aspect of WhatsApp. 

WhatsApp is also coming to Portal, Facebook's smart display, so both Messenger and WhatsApp will be available on the device with end-to-end encryption for video chats.

Mark Knapp

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