Of all the mistakes and confusing moves that Facebook has made over the years, one that still resonates to this day is the decision to spin Messenger off into its own app from the main Facebook app. As it stands, the only way to send a message to one of your Facebook friends on your phone is to download the Messenger app from the App Store or Google Play and log in to your account. But that might not be the case for much longer.
Researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who regularly delves into the recesses of popular apps to see what the developers might have planned for future updates, spotted a new feature within Facebook’s app which seems to indicate that the company is, at the very least, toying with the idea of combining the two apps once more.
In the tweet below, not only does Wong show off the Facebook app redesign that should be landing in the next couple of months (one which looks eerily similar to the Messenger app redesign), but we also see that the Messenger button at the top of the app no longer redirects you to the Messenger app. Instead, it opens a new Chats section within the main Facebook app, where you can message anyone on your friends list:
Wong notes that the Chats feature only includes basic messaging functionality at the moment. If you want to make a call, send a photo, or use reactions, you’ll have to go back to the Messenger app. All of this functionality could easily be added before the redesign goes live, but at least for now, there’s still a reason for Messenger to exist.
Undoubtedly, this new feature is part of Facebook’s plan to unify all of its chat apps, including Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. This unification reportedly won’t happen in full until the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020, but we might start to see the first signs of it with the next major Facebook app update.
UPDATE | 2:41 PM: A Facebook spokesperson provided the following statement: “We are testing ways to improve the messaging experience for people within the Facebook app. Messenger remains a feature-rich, stand-alone messaging app with over a billion people using it monthly to connect with the people and businesses they care about most. We do not have any additional details to share at this time.”