Facebook adds in-app SMS messaging and makes design changes in latest Android app update

Facebook Messenger left swipe update

Facebook is hitting its mobile stride with several new feature announcements today. In addition to offering photo syncing for Android devices, the social network is rolling out an additional update to both the Android Facebook app and Android Facebook Messenger app. Among the updates included is an in-app texting feature.

For Android smartphone owners, the Facebook Messenger app now has the option to text friends directly from within app itself. It’s the latest in a recent line of steps that Facebook has taken to house all forms of communication under its own roof. Now on Facebook Messenger, users can send or receive SMS messages, native Facebook messages, and even emails using the @facebook.com addresses that were allocated to every user months ago.

It’s no secret that Facebook has been trying hard to transform it’s platform into the destination for communication; users already spend hours upon hours doing using it for these means as is. Of course the motivation for Facebook here is that the longer users spend on the site, the higher the chances that Facebook has to earn advertising revenue from its users. Of course, migrating all things to mobile is priority number one over at Facebook, so this new implementation makes all too much sense. 

Before you get ahead of yourself, this specific feature won’t be available on every phone. Currently the list of supported phones, according to TechCrunch, includes the HTC One X, HTC EVO 3D, LG Optimus Black, LG Optimus Hub, Samsung Galaxy Ace, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy Y. Facebook is working on bringing the in-app texting feature to other Android phones.

You’ll recognize some user experience design updates on the Android Facebook Messenger including the ability to quickly access your Friends list simply by swiping your finger anywhere on the left side of the screen. And the look of the Messages page has been updated to a more conversational interface, similar to what you’d see on a native iOS SMS app or any other messenger app.

If you have a handful of Facebook friends that you regularly talk to, you can also now add them to a “Favorites” list.

Facebook’s main Android app has been updated to reflect most of the changes that users would find in the Messenger standalone app.

Facebook has also announced that an update to the iOS version of Facebook Messenger will arrive for Apple users shortly, but it’s highly unlikely that iOS device owners will use Facebook’s in-app SMS feature. Currently it’s not possible for developers to create scripts to read SMS messages from Apple’s native SMS app and display the messages in a third-party app.