Holiday Features Galore (Including Photo Magic) for Facebook Messenger

Users of Facebook Messenger have a pile of holiday presents to unwrap.

Users of Facebook Messenger have a pile of holiday presents to unwrap.

Director of product management Peter Martinazzi and product manager Lexy Franklin introduced a host of holiday-themed features for Messenger in a Newsroom post, highlighted by expanded availability of the Photo Magic feature the social network began testing last month.

Photo Magic is a facial-recognition feature that scans users’ devices’ camera rolls for photos that include friends, and then suggests that they send those photos to friends who are included in the images. The feature only works if users turn it on after receiving the prompt that they have access to it.

Martinazzi and Franklin offered instructions for the feature:

By recognizing your Facebook friends in the photos you take (just like when tagging or sharing photos on Facebook), Messenger can create a group thread for you to share the photos with those friends in just two taps. It’s fast, easy and simple. And you can turn this feature on or off at any time, as well as control if you are recognized in your friends’ photos in the Timeline and tagging section of your Facebook settings.

Make sure the feature is enabled (you can do this by going into your “settings” menu in Messenger, but you’ll also be prompted to try Photo Magic–you can say “try it” or choose to “X” it out).

Once you take a photo with your friends, you’ll get a reminder to send the photo to them (the photo will not be sent unless you tap send).

If you choose not to share the photo, hit “cancel.”

PhotoMagicIntroScreen PhotoMagic PhotoMagicSuggestions

As for the holiday-themed features in Messenger, Facebook introduced several customization options covering color, emoji and nicknames, and Martinazzi and Franklin provided further details:

In addition to making it easier to send photos, we are rolling out new fun ways to customize your conversations with different people and groups. With various color choices, emoji and nicknames, now you can really make Messenger your own space. For iOS, tap on the people’s names at the top of a conversation to change your family group thread to a festive red, update your mom’s formal first and last name to just “Mom” or change the emoji response in your holiday meet-up group from the thumbs up to something more timely, like a party hat. For Android, tap the info button in the top right. Anyone in the conversation can change the colors, nicknames and emojis as many times as they want, and when you make a change, the people you’re talking to will see what updates you selected.


MessengerHolidayCustomization2Regardless of what the weather is like in your location, Facebook is bringing snow to Messenger, causing snow to cover the screen when stickers or emoji related to Santa Claus, Christmas trees or snow are included.


The snow globe effect for Chat Heads on Android is also back.


And speaking of stickers, Martinazzi and Franklin highlighted sticker packs for Frozen and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


Readers: What are your thoughts on Photo Magic and the rest of the holiday-themed features that were introduced for Messenger? David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.