Facebook has launched a new version of its Messenger for Android, which also works with text messaging and comes with a whole new look. This is not surprising, as Google has also just rolled out a bunch of updates for Hangouts, including the ability to integrate text messages sent by a Google+ contact in your phone.
“What about the people you text with who aren’t your Facebook friends? Now you just need a contact’s phone number to begin texting others using Messenger,” Facebook said in a blog post. And it works two ways, of course. As long as you have associated your phone number with your Facebook Messenger, they will be able to send you text messages as well.
“To allow people who have your phone number to reach you in Messenger, the app will ask you to set the control called ‘Who can look you up by the phone number you provided?’ to Public,” Facebook says.
When you couple this new feature with the current Chat Heads, it almost seems like Facebook Messenger could be a functional SMS alternative app. This could be competition for IM alternatives like Whatsapp.
Facebook has also changed the look of the Messenger and made it leaner, flatter and cooler. There are three new panes on the top to show you all your recent conversations, your full contact list, and app settings.
You will notice a new icon next to some users’ profile pics, which looks like a “~” in a blue circle. This indicates that the contact is also using the Messenger for Android app, and will be notified of your message immediately.
The new Facebook Messenger for Android is being tested with a limited number of users at this time. Have you got an invitation? We’d love to know your thoughts about the app, so let us know in the comments below.