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Facebook Messenger iOS 6 update makes messaging the new texting

Facebook Messenger iOS 6 screencap

With iOS 6 updates rolling out in most major apps, it was only a matter of time before Facebook got in on the action and unveiled its latest Messenger app to match the newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system.

Facebook Messenger 2.0 features a few new shortcuts, such as swiping left to see who’s got the green light to chat and the ability to add friends you message the most to the top so you don’t have to search through your friends list. It’s also got a list of emoticons that are compatible with Facebook Messenger for those who like reliving the good ol’ AOL Instant Messenger days. This experience is heightened by the use of chat bubbles to distinguish between you and the recipient, which follows along the line of the interface found in Apple’s iMessage or even the precambrian iChat.

Facebook Messenger iOS 6Just like the Web interface, you can see who in your thread has viewed your message — down to the time the person opened it. You will also be able to see from where the person sent the message so friends can stay in the loop of their social circle’s whereabouts. Of course, the biggest improvement is the screen sizing to fit iPhone 5′s enlarged display so no more awkward black bars at the top and bottom of your screen where the iPhone 4 display cuts off. The revamped Facebook Messenger app is clearly made for those who’ve replaced texting with Facebook chats — especially the ones who may have forgotten their friends’ phone numbers or check their Facebook more than they check their cell.

Call me silly, but if I see a notification for Facebook and text on my phone, I do find myself checking Facebook first to see what’s new — but that may be because I personally use an Android phone. While the new Facebook Messenger for iOS may come just several weeks after Android first got the update, one feature sorely missing in iOS is the ability to send a Facebook message as a text. Knowing Apple’s API restrictions and tough workarounds, it is unlikely that iPhone users will be able to look forward to such functionality. For the time being, Facebook has done a fine job recreating the SMS experience — and then some — with its Messenger app. The app and update is free and is available for download today.