Last year, at the F8 developer conference, Facebook announced it was working on rebuilding the Messenger app from the ground-up, using the codename Project LightSpeed to refer to the new app. Realizing that its existing app was slow and inefficient compared to rival messaging services, Facebook said the new app would launch in under two seconds and come in at under 30MB in size. This new app was supposed to make its debut sometime last year, but that didn't end up happening.
Now, Facebook has announced that the new version of Messenger is now rolling out to users on iOS. While the two-second Startup time is no longer being mentioned, Facebook does say it will launch twice as fast compared to the previous version of Messenger. It's also just 25% of the size of the previous app in terms of file size, and the amount of code has been cut by a whopping 84%. There are now 360,000 lines of code in the app, down from over 1.7 million.
In addition to the improvements mentioned above, the company says it reduced the number of contacts page designs from 40 to a single adaptive layout, removing complexity and unnecessary code. With a significant portion of the code cut out from the app, Facebook said it also had to redesign some features to accommodate those changes, and because of that, some of them may be unavailable for some time after the upgrade. However, they'll come back eventually.
There's a detailed blog post from an engineering perspective discussing the work that went intomaking this new app. Among the many changes, one of the points that Facebook mentions is using OS code where possible, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
One thing that Facebook isn't mentioning, though, is when (or if) we can expect this new and improved app to land on Android. We've reached out to Facebook to see if there is any news on that front. For now, if you haven't yet, you can download Messenger for iOS on the App Store to see if you already have the new version.
Update: In a statement to Neowin, Facebook confirmed that it won't be taking a completely identical approach with the Android version of Messenger:
"Our goal is to build for the unique strengths of each platform. We don’t plan to take the same exact approach as iOS as we’ve had a Messenger Lite app on Android for years. But, we do plan to bring in key elements from Project LightSpeed (e.g., building in a reusable way, creating a new server framework) to further improve reliability and performance for our Android users."
It looks like if you're looking for a true lightweight experience on Android, you'll have to settle for the watered-down Messenger Lite app.