In a Newsroom post, Marcus reviewed features that were added to Messenger in 2015:
- Messenger Platform, which opened up Messenger for third-party developers to create apps that give users more ways to express their thoughts.
- Video calling.
- Customized colors, nicknames and emoji.
- Businesses on Messenger, which enables businesses to use the platform for communications with customers including modifying orders, tracking orders, returning merchandise and getting answers to questions.
- Payments via Facebook Messenger, the ability for users to send and receive money via the app.
- Faster speed.
- Updated location sharing.
- Virtual business cards.
- Message requests, the replacement for the app’s oft-criticized “other” folder, which allows any Facebook user to attempt to communicate with any other Facebook user, regardless of whether they are connected.
- Photo Magic, a facial-recognition technology that encourages users to share photos with their friends when those friends are included in the images.
- The launch of a transportation option with Uber.
- The test of virtual digital assistant M.
Marcus also offered a detailed look at what’s ahead for Messenger in 2016:
The disappearance of the phone number: First, let’s set some context. Think about it: SMS and texting came to the fore in the time of flip phones. Now, many of us can do so much more on our phones; we went from just making phone calls and sending basic text-only messages to having computers in our pockets. And just like the flip phone is disappearing, old communication styles are disappearing, too. With Messenger, we offer all the things that made texting so popular, but also so much more. Yes, you can send text messages, but you can also send stickers, photos, videos, voice clips, GIFs, your location and money to people. You can make video and voice calls while at the same time not needing to know someone’s phone number. You don’t need to have a Facebook account to use Messenger anymore, and it’s also a cross platform experience–so you can pick up where you left off whether you’re on a desktop computer, a tablet or your phone.
Threads are the new apps: We’re seeing a paradigm shift in how people engage. At Messenger, we’re thinking about how we can help you interact with businesses or services to buy items (and then buy more again), order rides, purchase airline tickets and talk to customer service in truly frictionless and delightful ways. It is so much easier to do everything in one place that has the context of your last interactions, as well as your identity–no need to ever log in–rather than downloading apps that you’ll never use again and jumping around from one app to another. Our early tests in 2015 with brands are showing that interactions will happen more and more in your Messenger threads, so we’ll continue making it easy for you to engage with businesses, and we’ll also do more to enable additional businesses and services to build the right experience in conversations.
We’re all social beings: We love to share, chat, debate, discuss and inform, most often with those closest to us. Messenger now gives you many tools to help you personalize your conversations no matter who you are talking to–your dorm corridor, your co-workers, your mom. We’re looking at ways for you to build your own space to communicate just the way you want to in your own style and tone–think of it like your very own social handshake. And one-to-one messages aren’t the only option. Groups on Messenger are the very best way to coordinate with friends, family, coworkers and others to make plans or even just to make sure you don’t miss anything when you can’t all be together in person.
Innovation matters: You can expect us to keep trying new things, too. Our test of M, our digital virtual assistant, powered by human-trained AI (artificial intelligence), is going well. It’s still very, very early days, but the growing AI capabilities are bringing unparalleled convenience to simple, everyday tasks like booking a restaurant, sending flowers and making plans. There will be more innovative developments to come from Messenger this year.
It’s all about delight: It’s really important that we build products that solve real problems for people. We want all of our experiences to be delightful and helpful, and to make your life easier, but we also want to empower you to put a smile on the faces of those people who matter the most in your life.
Readers: What do you think of Marcus’ outlook for Messenger in 2016?