Facebook creates mobile messaging app

August 9, 2011

Facebook has yet to release an app for use on Apple’s iPad tablet.

But the social networking giant gave users of Apple’s iPhone and Android smartphones a new app on Tuesday.

Dubbed Messenger, the new app lets Facebook users quickly shoot messages to their friends’ cell phones.

Yes, you could already do this using the existing Facebook mobile app, but that required navigating through various screens and layers every time you want to read and compose a message. The Messenger app is a one-trick pony that’s strictly for communicating, making the process much quicker.  And Messenger lets you communicate with friends that aren’t on Facebook, with the app sending SMS text messages directly to their phone numbers.

Facebook says the app is especially good for group messaging – spontaneous conversations among multiple friends making plans to see a movie or gathering at a bar, for instance. In fact, Messenger appears to be the new incarnation of Beluga, a group messaging software company that Facebook acquired earlier this year.

The launch of Messenger marks the first time that Facebook has released a single-function app to complement its general-purpose mobile app, and it reflects the company’s increasing focus on mobile phones. According to Facebook, 250 million of its 750 million users access the service on a mobile device, and Facebook mobile users are twice as active as non-mobile users.

There may be more to come: TechCrunch has reported that Facebook is developing a specialized photo-sharing app for mobile devices.

Facebook rival Google has its own group messaging feature, dubbed “huddle,” in its mobile version of the Google+ social networking service.  And by creating a specialized inter-phone messaging network, Facebook is, in a sense, developing its own version of Research In Motion’s popular BlackBerry Messenger service.

(Picture: Facebook screen grab of messaging app)

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