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Facebook debuts new colorful icon for Messenger, adds new features
by João Carrasqueira
Facebook is giving its Messenger app a makeover, introducing a new icon for the app that employs a colorful gradient, instead of the simple blue logo used so far. The new icon appears to be inspired by Instagram's icon, which is also owned by Facebook.
The social network says the new icon represents the "continued evolution" of Messenger and the fact that it's become than just a place to send messages. Over the past few months, the company has added new capabilities, like improvements for video calls (and Messenger Rooms), or the ability to watch videos together on the app, all of which are highlighted in today's announcement.
Facebook also recently began bringing its messaging platforms together, enabling cross-platform messaging between Instagram and Messenger. This capability is now almost fully rolled out in North America, according to the company, and it might be the reason the new Messenger icon takes inspiration from that of Instagram.
Along with the new icon, the app is also adding a handful of new ways for users to customize the look of the app, with new themes like love and tie-dye, as well as custom reactions for messages. More features are on the way soon, too, like selfie stickers and vanish mode.
Facebook didn't specifically say if the update is rolling out to everyone immediately or if only specific groups of users will see it. On our test devices (running Android 10), the update doesn't seem to be available yet, but it's likely it will become more widespread over the next few days.
Facebook Messenger now lets friends and family Watch Together
by Paul Hill
Facebook has announced Watch Together, a new feature that can be used over Messenger video calls and Messenger Rooms to tune into Facebook Watch with friends and family. According to Facebook, there are over 150 million video calls done on Messenger daily, with over 200 million videos being sent. With Watch Now, they can be watched together.
Facebook said that it created the new feature to allow people to spend “quality time” with one another as it allows users to see each other's reactions as though they were watching in the same room. Watch Together builds on Messenger Rooms which was launched earlier this year to help people cope with being socially isolated due to the coronavirus.
The social media firm believes that this tool will also be good for content creators. To promote this aspect of the service, it has partnered with fitness trainer and author Melissa Alcantara to create a series of fitness videos that groups can watch together as they work out. Facebook cited a study which said that 70% of those with a workout partner achieve their fitness goals compared to 45% of those who work out alone.
To start using Watch Together, just start a Messenger video call or create a Messenger Room and then swipe up to access the menu and select Watch Together. Here, you can choose what you’d like to watch.
The new feature will be rolling out globally this week in Messenger and Messenger Rooms on mobile for iOS and Android.
By Jay Bonggolto
Facebook is limiting message forwarding on Messenger to curb misinformation
by Jay Bonggolto
Facebook is making another change to Messenger in an effort to restrain the spread of misinformation and harmful content. The company announced today that it is limiting the number of people or groups you can forward a message to via Messenger.
With the latest change, you can now forward messages to only up to five people or groups at a time, similar to the forwarding limit Facebook introduced to WhatsApp early last year in order to curb the spread of false news. Jay Sullivan, Director of Product Management, Messenger Privacy and Safety, wrote in a blog post:
The restriction is the latest step taken by the social networking giant as it combats misinformation on the platform, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic and as elections worldwide inch closer. In June, it started warning users if they shared articles that were more than three months old. Earlier than that, Facebook introduced a way for people to see messages in their News Feed if they previously interacted with false news related to COVID-19. It remains to be seen how forwarding limit can help fight the spread of this type of content.
By Jefferson Mangubat
Messenger's new chat plugin lets businesses reach customers even outside Facebook
by Jefferson Mangubat
Facebook has introduced a new update to its Messenger plugin that makes it easier for businesses to talk to customers even if they are not logged in to the social networking site. In addition, the plugin has added a new intuitive design.
The chat plugin incorporates the Messenger experience into a business website and customers can chat directly with that business, either as a guest or by using their existing Messenger account. The first iteration of the tool, unveiled in 2017, limited that experience only to people who were logged in to their Facebook account.
Soma Toth, founder of Recart, a messaging platform for e-commerce merchants, said its enterprise customers have seen a growth in sales directly tied to Messenger engagement, adding that "the chat plugin helps them leverage the same investment across both their Facebook page and their website at no additional cost." Toth also mentioned another benefit of the tool, such as the reduced complexity of providing a fallback support to non Facebook users.
For businesses with a Facebook Page, the plugin can be installed on their website by heading straight to Settings and selecting Messaging. Under that section, there's an option to "Add Messenger to your website". Alternatively, businesses can tap Facebook's partners such as WooCommerce, ManyChat, and Haravan to have the tool installed.
Source: Facebook via TechCrunch
By Abhay V
Messenger's screen sharing feature expands to Android and iOS
by Abhay Venkatesh
Facebook has today announced that it is bringing Messenger and Messenger Room’s screen sharing capability to the company’s mobile apps. Up until now, the feature was enabled when using video calling only in the desktop offerings. Users can share their device screens with eight people in Messenger and with up to 16 people in Messenger Rooms. The Rooms feature lets up to 50 users get on a video call, and began rolling out to all Facebook users earlier in May.
The social media giant terms the feature a “fun and engaging way to connect and share with family and friends on video calls”. The introduction on the feature on Messenger’s Android and iOS versions come at a time when video calling apps’ usage is surging, with people staying at home and away from family in times of the pandemic. According to the company, the screen sharing feature lets users “share memories from your camera roll, shop together online, co-browse social media, and more”.
The service will also add features that will let Rooms creators limit who can share their screens. In addition to those privacy controls, the firm also intends to expand the feature to support sharing with up to 50 people in Rooms. While the feature is not exactly aimed at professionals and is more of a consumer-focused addition, it could be a nifty addition for those that not only want to share memories but also help with demoing functions on a mobile device and more.
The Messenger app on Android and iOS should begin receiving an update enabling this feature starting today. However, as with such updates, it could be some time till all devices receive the update, as the rollout is staggered and should be made available in waves.